- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

College football games on TV might be one reason why October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. Another reason might be that the crisp fall air makes this the perfect time for a batch of Nancy’s popcorn soup.

Nancy Crossman, my agent, grew up in Cleveland and recalls her mother serving the family this crazy but delicious soup based on a mixture of canned corn kernels and canned creamed corn that is garnished with the most child- and adult-friendly food of all: popcorn. I tinkered with her recipe, using half-and-half as a quick thickener instead of whisking in an egg as Nancy’s mother used to do.

Five time-shaving ways to use a drained can of corn:

• Fold into salsa and spoon over grilled chicken

m Add seasoning, a tablespoon or two of flour, 2 cups of milk and 3 eggs for a speedy corn pudding to bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.

• Season with a small onion you have chopped and sauteed in butter. Add chopped potato, chicken broth and milk to cover and simmer until potato is tender. Then season this corn chowder with salt and pepper to taste.

m Fry a couple strips of bacon, reserve the bacon and crumble. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and saute cup of chopped onion, then add one chopped fresh tomato, a cup of lima beans, the corn, black pepper and chicken broth to just cover. Simmer until vegetables are soft, then serve with the crumbled bacon.

• Sprinkle a handful of corn atop your favorite pizza with strips of ham and drained pineapple chunks. Bake until bubbly.

Nancy’s popcorn soup

2 14.75-ounce cans cream-style corn

11-ounce can corn kernels, drained

2 cups (1 pint) half-and-half

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (from two 14- to 14.5-ounce cans)

1 chicken-flavored bouillon cube

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Black pepper

2 cups popped popcorn

Hot red pepper sauce, optional

Place cream-style corn, corn kernels, half-and-half, chicken broth and bouillon cube in a 4-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly for the first few minutes.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens and is hot but not boiling, 10 to 12 minutes total.

Remove pan from heat and stir in sugar and butter. Season to taste with pepper. Ladle soup into serving bowls and garnish each serving with some of the popcorn. Pass hot pepper sauce at the table, if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

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