Unable to find the recipe for cheesy chowder served at Marshall Field’s Bowl and Basket restaurant, I invited readers to send one in if they had it. (See original question below) Eden Rosenbush, chef and owner of Chicago’s Big Red Oven, did just that.
“Oh, the Bowl and Basket. I haven't thought about that restaurant in years but it brings back great memories (my grandparents used to take us there often),” Rosenbush wrote in an email. “Their sandwiches were fantastic and so was the soup.”
In a subsequent telephone call, Rosenbush told me her grandmother had clipped the recipe and used to serve the soup at lunch.
“It was absolutely delicious,’’ recalled the culinary consultant.
One caveat: The recipe wording is rather quirky, which is why Rosenbush told me she sent it exactly as worded in the newspaper clipping. For example, the recipe calls for melted butter in the list of ingredients, then instructs you to melt the butter in the text. And 1 gallon and 1 cup? Whoever heard of such a quantity? Rosenbush says her grandmother made adjustments to the recipe: Fresh carrots for canned (I’d do that, too) and shredding the cheddar (sensible).
So, approach this recipe with your eyes open and your mind alert. And remember – you’ll end up with one gallon and one cup of soup. Freeze the leftovers in pint-size container.
Marshall Field’s cheesy chowder
Makes: 1 gallon and 1 cup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 quart hot chicken broth
1/2 gallon and 1 cup hot milk
1 1/3 tablespoons paprika
1 can (13 ounces) clams, drained, with juice reserved
1/2 cup canned carrots, diced
3/4 teaspoons parsley, minced
2 tablespoons salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 1/2 cups cooked, diced potatoes
1 dash bitters, or to taste
14 ounces aged cheddar cheese, shredded
1. In a large stockpot, cook onion and celery in 2 tablespoons butter until vegetables are tender. Remove and set aside.
2. Melt remaining 1/2 cup butter in pot. Add flour and cornstarch; cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes to make roux. Do not let roux brown. Add broth and milk; whisk briskly until blended.
3. Mix paprika with reserved clam juice. Add to soup along with clams and remaining ingredients except cheese; heat through. Add cheese; heat only until cheese is melted. Avoid heating over 180 degrees or soup may separate.
Looking for a cheesy chowder
Q: When I was in my 20s, many years ago, I worked downtown and loved to eat lunch at Marshall Field's. They had a restaurant that served Cheesy Chowder and it was delicious. Years later the recipe was published in the Tribune. It made a gallon of soup, which was too much for me but great when hosting a winter party. I have lost my copy of the recipe and would appreciate it if you could locate it and publish it again.
—Hillary Schneider, Bartlett
A: I've checked and rechecked the Tribune archives for some 30 years and couldn't find this recipe. I did find some 1970s references to a cheesy chowder being served in Marshall Field's seventh floor cafeteria, called the Bowl and Basket.
Cheesy Chowder is a recipe many other Chicago area residents pine for, judging by the requests posted on various on-line food bulletin boards. I've inquired and heard there may be someone out there who clipped this recipe from a newspaper — if not the Tribune, then perhaps from another Chicago newspaper. If someone has the recipe, please forward it along!
In the meantime, I found a recipe for "Canadian Cheese Soup" in "The Marshall Field's Cookbook" of 2006. The soup "has been a fixture on the menu in Detroit — first at Hudson's, then at Marshall Field's — for more than two decades,'' the head note reads. Now, is this the same soup you remember? Maybe. Or maybe not. But given there's only so many things you can do with cheese soup, I suspect it's got to be relatively similar.
I have not tested this recipe. But it looks pretty straightforward. I'd make this soup according to the recipe, then begin tinkering to bring it more into line with what you remember. Let me know how it goes.
Canadian cheese soup
Makes: 6 servings.
A recipe from "The Marshall Field's Cookbook."
Text by Steve Siegelman. "To get the best flavor and texture, use a high-quality aged cheddar,'' the recipe head note reads. "For a tasty 'grilled cheese' effect, you can garnish each bowlful with buttery pan-toasted French bread croutons."
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1/2 cup each: finely diced celery; finely diced carrot
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 cups each: whole milk; chicken broth
2 pounds aged sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.Put butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; melt. Add the onion, celery and carrot; cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Sprinkle the flour and paprika over the vegetables and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until thickened. Decrease the heat to low and whisk in the cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve hot.
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