Towne Shoppe’s Hamburger Soup

 Main Entrees, Soup  Comments Off on Towne Shoppe’s Hamburger Soup
Feb 182018

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!

Towne Shoppe's Hamburger Soup
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1 ratings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Category: Main Entrees, Soup

Servings: 12 Servings


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large white onion. diced
  • 1 pound of carrots, cleaned and diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 3 Tbsp. white flour
  • 4 pounds of waxy potatoes (Red or Yukon Gold), diced
  • 32 oz. beef stock or broth
  • 64 oz. chicken or vegetable stock or broth.
  • 1 pound turkey Kielbasa sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound frozen corn
  • 2 tsp. thyme (French thyme if you have it)
  • Salt (to taste)


  1. Brown the hamburger in a skillet, sprinkle liberally with black pepper, drain any excess grease, and transfer to the soup pot.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. When the flour starts to brown and is absorbed into the oil, add the vegetable mixture to the soup pot.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. When the potatoes are almost done, add the corn, sausage and the thyme.
  9. Taste the soup and add 1 tsp. salt at a time until it has the desired saltiness.
  10. Adjust the other seasonings if necessary.
  11. Serve when the corn and sausage are heated through.
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Croutons (For Soup or Salad)

 Other, Salad, Soup  Comments Off on Croutons (For Soup or Salad)
Apr 092017

There is nothing like freshly made croutons to add the perfect finishing touch to a soup or a salad. I’ve been making these for a while and never thought much of it. I recently made them with soup for my friends Danielle and Bill. When they called me for the recipe, I knew it was time to add it to the website, so here we go. The trick is to use a good quality bread and extra-virgin olive oil.

My friend Adrienne had a good idea. When you have leftover ends of loaves or bread that is going stale, cube the bread and put it in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. After a while you’ll have a good supply of pre-cubed bread to quickly make croutons. No thawing needed! just throw them in the pan.

Croutons (For Soup or Salad)
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Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Category: Other, Salad, Soup

After you have made this a couple of times you'll figure out the amounts and how much heat to use. Really, it's pretty hard to screw up unless you aren't keeping an eye on it while it is toasting. Again, use a good quality bread (Avoid sandwich bread if possible) and your best extra-virgin olive oil.


  • Good quality Bread, a bit stale is OK
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Granulated Garlic
  • White Pepper, preferably freshly ground
  • Salt (If Desired)


  1. Start with a good quality bread, Italian, French, Multi-Grain or any combination thereof. It's OK if the bread is a few days old and a good way to get rid of the ends of loaves. Slice the bread and dice into approximately 1 inch cubes.
  2. Heat a generous amount of olive oil,several tablespoons (Use a really good quality of oil) in a large frying pan over medium heat and throw in the bread cubes. Toss until coated with olive oil.
  3. Toast the bread for a few minutes and then sprinkle generously with granulated garlic, white pepper and a bit of salt if desired.
  4. Spray the tops of the cubes with more olive oil, and keep turning every few minutes until the cubes are browned. Adjust the heat so you don't burn the cubes. Fresh bread will take longer than stale bread.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy! The cubes should be crisp on the outside but soft on the inside.


A time and money-saving idea is when you have leftover bread ends or bread going stale, chop it into cubes and put it in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. Then all you will need to do is pour some pre-cubed bread to your frying pan and you are ready to go. You are also not wasting the ends of a loaf of bread.

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Ginger-Garlic Spicy Asian Soup

 Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian  Comments Off on Ginger-Garlic Spicy Asian Soup
Dec 212016

I created this recipe a number of years ago for Natalie when she was suffering from a bit of a cold since she is a big fan of ginger, garlic, and hot peppers. It provided some relief and we’ve been making it ever since, whether we need it for its curative properties or not. Despite the fresh vegetables, we usually eat it in the fall and winter, as it is soothing for stuffed up noses and sore throats. Of course, spicy soup is always comforting in cold weather.

This recipe can be very flexible and you can adjust the amounts to your taste and by what vegetables are available. However, the key ingredients are lots of ginger and garlic, and some type of hot pepper. Miri, Soy Sauce and Star Anise also help give the broth it’s characteristic flavor, so don’t omit or skimp on these items. You can leave the soup with just vegetables — I sometimes add shrimp but cooked pork or chicken would probably be good, or tofu to keep it vegan or vegetarian. If your head is really stuffed up, increase the amounts of ginger, garlic, and hot pepper. You have my word that you’ll feel a lot better after a hot bowl of this soup.

Ginger-Garlic Spicy Asian Soup
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Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Category: Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

Servings: 4 Servings


  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 to 4 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 3-4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, finely diced, or hot pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 star anise
  • 64 oz. broth, I use "Imagine" vegetarian "No-Chicken" broth
  • 2-3 Tbsp Aji Mirin, rice wine
  • 1-2 Tbsp Lite soy sauce
  • 6 oz. Rice noodles or Ramen.
  • 10 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, matchstick cut
  • 2 Baby Bok Choy, sliced at about 1/4 inch, including leaves
  • 1 cup snow pea pods sliced on an angle
  • Bean sprouts (optional)
  • Pre-cooked shrimp, chicken, pork or tofu (optional)


  1. Dice the green onions saving the green part for garnish.
  2. Saute the ginger, garlic, shallot, pepper and white part of the onion in oil over medium heat until softened.
  3. Add the broth, turn the heat to high, and add the 4 star anise, one- half of the Mirin and one half of the soy sauce.
  4. Stir and taste, adding soy sauce to get the proper amount of saltiness. The amount needed will vary depending on your choice of broth. Add more Mirin if you like it sweeter.
  5. Let the broth simmer fo about 10 minutes. Remove the star anise and then add the rice noodles or Ramen and all of the vegetables except the bean sprouts and green onions. Turn up the heat and bring to a low boil and cook until the noodles are done.
  6. Add the shrimp, pork, chicken or tofu if desired and heat through.
  7. Put some bean sprouts in the bottom of each bowl and ladle the soup in.
  8. Everyone can top with green onions to their taste.


As stated in the description, you can vary most of the amounts and the ingredients according to your preferences. The key ingredients are lots of garlic and ginger and some type of hot pepper, so don't omit or skimp on these. Star Anise isn't essential, but it adds an exotic flavor profile. The Mirin and soy sauce give the broth it's flavor so don't omit those. I think the some type of mushroom is essential also, Shitake is good but you should probably saute those with the garlic, ginger and onions. Experiment with vegetable types and amounts. You could use carrots in place of the sweet red pepper. The protein is optional. I usually add shrimp, but any of the others or none is good.

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Butternut Squash Soup

 Soup, Vegan, Vegetable, Vegetarian  Comments Off on Butternut Squash Soup
Oct 272016

Butternut Squash Soup
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Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Category: Soup

Cuisine: American

Servings: 18

Butternut Squash Soup

I always hate to see the warm days of summer go, but one bright spot as the cold short days of fall and winter arrive is a nice hot bowl of Butternut Squash soup and a fresh warm piece of good, hearth baked multi-grain or rye bread. This is a savory, spicy soup with just a hint of sweetness. It's relatively easy to make if you have an immersion blender and a large batch will provide meals for a couple of days along with some to freeze.

I tend to modify the recipe according to which vegetables I have on hand. To change up the recipe a bit, add a couple of large chopped jalapeno peppers and saute with the onions. My current recipe uses 1 large potato and 1 pound of carrots.


  • 4-5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers (optional)
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 10 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves (or dried sage)
  • 2 tsp. sweet Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Fresh-Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. White Pepper to taste
  • Salt (if needed)
  • 3 bunches green gnions or chives (chopped)


  1. Peel, seed and cube the squash.
  2. Peel and cube the carrots* and the potato.
  3. Chop the onions and the peppers if you are using them.
  4. In a large pot, saute the onions and peppers in the oil until they are translucent and just start to brown.
  5. Add the squash and the potato and carrots, or the potatoes to the pot and then add the broth** until the vegetables are almost covered.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  7. When the cooking is almost done, Chop the sage and add it to the pot.
  8. Use a hand blender to puree the soup.***
  9. Season with paprika, nutmeg, salt and white pepper.****
  10. Taste and add more salt and white pepper if necessary.
  11. Serve with chopped green onions or chives.


* You can substitute parsnips for the carrots or use a mixture of both. The potato adds some creaminess to the soup but you can eliminate it to reduce carbs.

** I use my favorite vegetable broth called "No Chicken", made by Imagine, which makes for a vegetarian and vegan recipe. You can substitute chicken broth or your favorite vegetable broth.

*** If you don't have a hand blender, you can remove the cooked vegetables with a slotted spoon and puree them in a blender or food processor and then return the puree to the soup pot. This is a messy and time-consuming way of doing this, so if you like the recipe, splurge and buy yourself a hand blender.

**** For this recipe I usually grate a whole nutmeg seed into the pot and also season with a considerable amount of white pepper to give the soup a bit of a bite, but add it to your own taste. I add some paprika for color. Taste before you add salt as the soup may be salty enough from the broth.

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Mark’s Clam Chowder

 Seafood, Soup  Comments Off on Mark’s Clam Chowder
Jan 262015

I’ve been making this clam chowder for a long time. I came up with the recipe to mimic what you might get at a clambake, and to avoid the excess calories of New England Clam Chowder. This is a large recipe, because I usually make it for a crowd or we eat it for a few days. This recipe should scale down well. Serve it with crusty sourdough or rye bread.

Mark’s Clam Chowder
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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Category: Seafood, Soup

Servings: 12 - 20 servings


  • 6 strips bacon - (Omit for Vegetarian recipe and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions (diced)
  • 5# red potatoes unpeeled, diced.
  • 1# carrots
  • 1 sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 8 cups (64oz.) chicken stock
  • 8 cups (64oz.) water
  • 1# bag frozen corn
  • 4 - 6.5 oz. cans minced or chopped clams with juice
  • 1 - 10 oz can whole baby clams
  • 2 bottles of clam juice
  • Black pepper
  • 3 or 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Salt to taste if needed


  1. Dice the bacon and fry in a large deep pot until crisp.
  2. Add the diced onion and black pepper. Cook until slightly browned.
  3. Add potatoes, carrots, pepper, broth and enough water to cover.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface. (This will get rid of most of the fat)
  6. Add frozen corn, clams, clam juice and rosemary sprigs.
  7. Return to boil and simmer another 15 minutes making sure potatoes are done.
  8. Adjust seasonings, remove the rosemary stems and serve.
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