Cooking for Parties/Cooking for about 250 people
QUESTION: I am going to be cooking in a soup kitchen that is just opening. I am a pastry chef. I have not cooked this large amount of food before. Would you have any suggestions on how to develop recipes for this large amount of people. Would you have any recipes that you would like to share. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
ANSWER: Unlike pastry, soup recipes are easily developed and increased. In my opinion, the most precise cooking techniques are for candy making which is dependent on exact measurements and following instructions to the absolute letter and doubling the recipe doesn't always work.
After candy-making, baking and pastry are the most precise recipes that are difficult to tweak or double with reliable results. However, soup is very very forgiving.
Soups start with the holy trinity of mirepoix. Anything else can be added to the stock and recipes can easily be doubled or tripled with reliable results. If you can make pastry, soups can be done in your sleep. The classic soups are stupidly easy to make and the ingredients can be changed to fit what you have. For example, the classic beef barley soup can be made with lamb instead of beef which gives a totally different taste--with only one substitution.
The thing about soups is to remember to go EASY on the salt as they simmer and evaporate which causes them to get saltier as they are held. Your diners can always ADD salt but can't get it out.
The "Better than...." family of soup bases are the creme de la creme for flavor enhancement and come in Beef, Chicken, Ham, Vegetable, and Fish flavors. I highly recommend them for your soups and they are readily available in foodservice size containers. Any soup recipe can be tripled or quadrupled or more using simple math and the results will be reliable. Obviously you will need commercial equipment.
I have literally thousands of soup recipes and I can scale them for 100 or more servings. Here's few to get you started:
Ham and Potato Soup (200 servings--halve recipe for 100)
85 cups peeled and diced potatoes
8-1/3 cups diced celery
8-1/3 cups finely chopped onion
18-3/4 cups diced cooked ham
80 cups water
3 cups and 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
7-3/4 cups butter
7-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
50 cups milk
Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.
Italian Sausage Soup for 100 (double for 200)
16-3/4 pounds Italian sausage
16-1/2 cloves garlic, minced
33-1/2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
16-1/2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes
16-2/3 cups sliced carrots
16-1/2 (14.5 ounce) cans great Northern beans, undrained
33-1/2 small zucchini, cubed
33 cups spinach - packed, rinsed and torn
1 tablespoon and 1-1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon and 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown sausage with garlic. Stir in broth, tomatoes and carrots, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
Stir in beans with liquid and zucchini. Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. Remove from heat, and add spinach. Replace lid allowing the heat from the soup to cook the spinach leaves. Soup is ready to serve after 5 minutes.
Beef Barley Soup
30 pounds of beef chuck roast
5 cups barley
10 bay leaves
1-1/4 cups oil
30 carrots, chopped
30 stalks celery, chopped
10 onion, chopped
10 (16 ounce) packages frozen mixed vegetables
40 cups water
40 cubes beef bouillon cube
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
10 (28 ounce) cans chopped stewed tomatoes
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
Chop meat into 1/2 inch-size pieces and brown in oil until well browned in large soup kettle. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Chicken Noodle Soup for 100
21 cups wide egg noodles
2 tablespoons and 2-1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
100 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup and 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons and 2-1/4 teaspoons poultry seasoning
8-1/3 cups chopped celery
8-1/3 cups chopped onion
25 cups diced, cooked chicken meat
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and oil, and boil for 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and rinse under cool running water.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, combine broth, salt, and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil. Stir in celery and onion. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
Stir in noodles and chicken, and heat through.
Amazing Minestrone for 100
2-1/3 cups olive oil
37-1/2 cloves garlic, chopped
25 onions, chopped
25 cups chopped celery
62-1/2 carrots, sliced
25 cups chicken broth
25 cups water
50 cups tomato sauce
6-1/4 cups red wine (optional)
12-1/2 cups canned kidney beans, drained
12-1/2 (15 ounce) cans green beans
25 cups baby spinach, rinsed
37-1/2 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
3/4 cup and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1-1/2 cups and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
6-1/4 cups seashell pasta
1-1/2 cups and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese for topping
3/4 cup and 1 teaspoon olive oil
In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add chicken broth, water and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. If desired add red wine at this point. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
Fill a pan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls or add to the soup pot. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
Let me know what soups you'd like recipes for and I will see what I can find. Happy Trails!
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QUESTION: Thank you for the recipes and the advice. Not only will we be cooking soup. We are going to try to cook a dinner on Saturdays. If you have any suggestions or recipes that we could use that would be greatly appreciated. Again Thank you for all your information.
Fried Chicken is a perennial favorite, cheap to make and everyone likes it. Mashed potatoes and green beans are also staples in food service. Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread with a simple salad is also easy to prepare in large amounts. There are endless possibilities, but I don't know if this is for a charity soup kitchen or gourmet restaurant, so I also don't know your budget. Think back to what grandma used to make for inspiration.