Years ago, there was a Soda Fountain/Magazine Shop in downtown Barrington called the Towne Shoppe. I think it had been there forever. There was the typical long counter that you would find in a Soda Fountain along with the requisite round stools attached to the floor with red vinyl cushions. The food was simple, bagels in the morning, soup and sandwiches the rest of the day. I went in almost every morning for a bagel and tea, and would sometimes pick up soup for lunch since it was only a short block away from my studio. My all-time favorite soup was one that they had only occasionally, and that was hamburger soup. It was unique as it was not tomato based, and it wasn’t overly flavored with beef broth as you might find in a beef-barley or beef vegetable soup.
Recently, I was preparing soup for a dinner with friends and thought I would try and replicate it from my 20-year old memory. Unlike my normal cooking experiences when I try to replicate an unknown recipe, which usually requires many attempts and adjustments, I hit this one on the first try. The soup matched my memory of the Towne Shoppe’s soup and my friends raved about it. This recipe will serve at least 12, and you can adjust the amounts of the ingredients to your liking. Enjoy!
4 pounds of waxy potatoes (Red or Yukon Gold), diced
32 ounces beef stock or broth
64 ounces chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1 pound frozen corn
2 teaspoons thyme (French thyme if you have it)
Salt (to taste)
Brown the hamburger in a skillet, sprinkle liberally with black pepper, drain any excess grease, and transfer to the soup pot.
Add the oil to the skillet and then add the onion, carrots, celery, pepper, and garlic. Sprinkle with black pepper. Saute the vegetables over medium heat until they start to soften and the onions become translucent.
Lower the heat, and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix in with your spatula. Keep scraping the bottom of the pan to keep the flour from burning.
When the flour starts to brown and is absorbed into the oil, add the vegetable mixture to the soup pot.
Return the frying pan to the heat, turn it to medium-high, and deglaze the pan with about a cup of broth. Scrape the pan to remove the fond and add the mixture to the soup pot.
Add the potatoes to the soup pot, and then the broth. Turn the heat under the soup pot to high and bring it to a boil, stirring frequently. When it boils, lower the heat to a simmer.
Set the bag of corn out to thaw a bit. While the soup is cooking, add a little oil to the frying pan and lightly brown the sausage.
When the potatoes are almost done (about 20 minutes) , add the corn, sausage, and the thyme.
Taste the soup and add 1 tsp. salt at a time until it has the desired saltiness.
Adjust the other seasonings if necessary.
Serve when the corn and sausage are heated through.