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Cooking for Parties/Cooking for about 250 people

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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.
Thanks,
Rebecca

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!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

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.

Answer
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.  

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Teri Davis Newman

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I am a wedding and party planner in St. Louis, Missouri and I do weddings and parties all over the country! My brides are my number one priority as I understand how important their wedding day is to them! Any questions about catering and cooking for large groups. This would include recipes, cooking techniques, what to serve, how to prevent food poisoning, food storage and food integrity. I have thousands of recipes that are scaled for large groups and gatherings and will be happy to share them! If you are in need of professional assistance for helping you to plan your wedding, party or corporate event, please feel free to contact me! I do a limited amount of weddings and parties every year in order to make sure that I have the best service for my clientele. Feel free to visit my business website at this address: WWW.EXQUISITEEVENTSUSA.COM for detailed information on what services I offer. I have price point weddings for every budget--no matter what size and I am very specific about what you get for your hard-earned money.

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Graduate, Le Cordon Bleu, Tokyo, Japan

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