Cooks’ Exchange: Recipes to that warm the body and heart

February 27, 2019

We’re bidding farewell to a February plagued with way below zero temperatures, brutal wind chill factors, and mountains of snow we would have enjoyed for hours as youngsters. Thoughts of those days carry me back to meals that warmed us from the toes up after willingly and joyfully spending hours outside wearing thickly-padded snow suits, heavy boots, wool mittens, and soft warm wool scarves wrapped around our faces for protection from winter’s cold. It never seemed to matter how many hours we spent tobogganing at Olbrich, sliding on sleds overlooking the railroad tracks, building snow forts in the backyard, or just having fun in the neighborhood. What was important after hours of having winter fun outside was returning home and going down in the basement to remove our winter attire before heading upstairs to the kitchen where mothers were busy keeping kitchens warm preparing favorite family meals.

Larry Weber remembers an old family recipe passed down through generations of his mother’s side of the family that everyone enjoyed on chilly days.

Kauffeld winter soup

4 or 5 potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks

Half of a large onion, coarsely chopped


¼ pound of bacon, diced

A can of tomatoes

Tabasco sauce

Cover potato chunks and chopped onion with water. Add salt and cook until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile dice and fry about a quarter pound of bacon and fry until almost crisp, reserving fat. When the potatoes are done, drain off some water depending on how thick or thin you prefer the soup. Add a can of tomatoes (seems to me she used whole, peeled home-canned tomatoes) and broke them up with a spoon in the soup, however diced would work, too, with the juice. Add fried diced bacon and leftover bacon fat and season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit of Tabasco. Simmer just a bit to blend flavors. Eat with crusty bread. This should serve 2 or 3 hungry people.

My mother’s chili recipe is dated 1962, but that must have been the date when she wrote it down for me on an index card because by that time playing in the snow was just another winter childhood memory. It has always been my favorite chili recipe, but maybe that’s because she never made chili that was fancier than this one. And besides, we all loved it just the way it was.

Mother’s chili

3 slices of bacon

½ onion, chopped

1 pound of hamburger

1 garlic clove, chopped

½ teaspoon chili powder

2 8-ounce cans of tomato sauce

16-ounce can of tomatoes, sieved or chopped, added with juice

1 small can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

¼ package Lipton’s dried onion soup

Salt to taste

Slice bacon in ½-inch pieces and fry with onions. When getting brown, add hamburger and garlic and continue sautéing. When done, grease can be removed, otherwise, if there is only a small amount, leave in for more flavor and add chili powder, tomato sauce, tomatoes and juice, kidney beans and dried onion soup. Simmer covered, for about 20 minutes and taste. Salt can be added if necessary. Simmer for about 10 more minutes. Serve or store in the refrigerator as the next day it will taste even better.

Note: A reader once requested a chili recipe with no chili powder. By removing ½ teaspoon of chili powder, this might be a good one to try. Mother used a 10 cent can of kidney beans in this recipe. Those are, obviously, no longer available. Use a small can instead.

March columns will feature favorite recipes from old cookbooks and when I recently opened one printed in 1922 by the Ladies Aid of the First Evangelical Church in Madison, I discovered a collection of old-fashioned recipes most of us know nothing about like the one Mrs. L. W. Messerschmidt shared for pickled pork.

I’m pretty sure food safety experts today would not recommend this method. And I’m doubtful that most readers will want to pickle 100 pounds of pork at a time. But the recipe is a wonderful glimpse back in time.

Pickled pork

Pack meat tightly in jars or barrel. For 100 lbs of pork, boil together 6 lbs. rock salt, 2 lbs. rock candy or brown sugar, 2 ounces of saltpeter, and 4 gallons of water. When cool, pour over meat to cover.

Treating customers like family and best friends with mouth-watering recipes, Soupcon, once located at 112 King St., was a favorite eating establishment. We were later gifted with a pink soft cover cookbook, “Favorite Recipes From Soupcon,” containing some of their all-time favorites, especially sandwiches, soup and pies to be treasured and enjoyed forever.

In 2012, a letter arrived from Jeannine Nusbaum describing Soupcon’s cream of mushroom soup as one of her mother’s favorites. Here is the recipe.

Soupcon cream of mushroom soup

½ pound fresh mushrooms, chopped or ground

2 cups water

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups rich milk or half-and-half

¼ cup finely-chopped onion

1 teaspoon Accent

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Pour water over 2/3 of the mushrooms and simmer for 20 minutes. Melt butter, add remaining 1/3 of the mushrooms, and saute until brown. Add flour and stir into a paste. Add milk and stir again until smooth. Add simmered mushrooms and the water and stir until smooth. Add Accent and parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6.

Doris Zach recently asked for the bacon, lettuce and tomato soup recipe served a long time ago at a charming place that no longer exists on Main Street in Cross Plains. Wondering if it was a recipe featured here back in 1994 from The Past and Present Inn in Cross Plains, hope this is what she remembers.

BLT soup

½ cup margarine

2/3 cup flour

1 quart of milk

2 cups chicken stock

10 slices crisp-fried bacon, crumbled

1 cup lettuce, finely chopped

½ cup tomato, finely chopped

2 tablespoons white Worcestershire

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning, optional

Melt margarine, blend in flour. Add milk, cook and stir until thickened. Bring chicken stock to a boil and add bacon and vegetables. Continue cooking to heat vegetables. Combine stock mixture with cream soup. Season to taste.

Recent requests: The following are recipes requested some time ago, one from Karen Tyler, Sauk City, who is searching for a shortcake recipe like her mother used to make for strawberry shortcake being “almost white colored, thick dough, and drier than most shortcakes.”

Another recipe Tyler requested was for ”Pot Pie, possibly English, Pennsylvania Dutch or German.”

Elaine Hurda is still waiting for the green bean salad recipe served on relish trays at the Old Stamm House back in the 1980s/90s.

And it didn’t surprise me when Jackie Langetieg recently asked for the potato salad recipe from Jacobson’s that we all loved.

And Nancy Magestro, remembered the rice balls stuffed with meatballs she enjoyed at Rosario’s before the restaurant closed, but so far, the arancini recipe we all loved remains a secret.

That’s it for now and I hope to hear from you with favorite old family recipes or those from old cookbooks to feature in March columns.