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I worked at the King Ko Inn in King Salmon, Alaska during my teenage years in the mid-1970s. Most of that time I was a maid, but for a few months in my senior year of high school I was a waitress. The clientele were German sport fishermen and road laborers working on the upgrade of the road to Naknek. The inn’s manager was this mountainous rough woman named Bea. She was all seeing, all knowing. She cruised through the inn like a giant tanker, trailing a wake of fear behind her. She was fiercely protective, however, of her young employees. One thing you could count on when Bea was cooking on Fridays was her Manhattan Clam Chowder. Most places, in the western United States at least, serve clam chowder on Fridays, but it is New England style. Bea’s Manhattan Clam Chowder is so memorable that I have been trying to duplicate it ever since. I finally found it here at Food 52 a few years ago.

  • Ingredients
  • 16 oz. (2-8 oz. bottles) clam juice
  • 12 oz. (2- 6 oz. cans) chopped clams, drained, reserve juice
  • 4 oz. diced bacon
  • 1-1/2 cups small dice onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks (white part only)
  • 1 cup small dice celery
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/8 heaping tsp. celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups 1/2″ dice peeled potatoes
  • 28 oz. chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. horseradish sauce

In a large pan, fry bacon until nearly crisp. Stir in vegetables and saute until soft. Stir in spices. Stir in clam juice and reserved clam juice, salt, pepper, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer until potatoes are cooked through. Stir in tomatoes and clams. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in horseradish sauce. Serve. Oh, yum!!!

Notes: This will serve 4 easily. I like to serve with a crusty bread or oyster crackers. If you’ve never used leeks before, make sure you clean them appropriately. I slice mine in half lengthwise and then run under cold water while I flip the layers of leek, like pages of a book. Leeks hide sand and bugs and have to be cleaned well. Then I chop them up. This is a gluten-free dish.

I am a fan of split pea soup. I buy the spiral-sliced fully-cooked hams at Costco and whenever we have ham for dinner, I save the bone to make split pea soup. If I need to cook chicken for a dish calling for shredded chicken meat, then I might cook the chicken in water and use the flavored water for this split pea soup.

My meals tend to be like guitar riffs where one thing builds on another. This morning I was trying to use up all the Cheesy Potatoes from last night’s Christmas dinner, so I diced some leftover ham and put it on the bottom of a skillet, then plopped the leftover Cheesy Potatoes on the ham. Once heated, I cracked four eggs over the top, covered the skillet until the eggs were cooked to my liking and had a delicious brunch. I digress.

  • Ingredients:
  • Ham bone (with a little meat left on) or bacon or breakfast sausage
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock
  • 1/2 # dried green split peas
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley (optional)
  • Fresh or frozen peas (optional)

If you are using a ham bone, then just put it into a large stock pot. If you are using bacon or breakfast sausage, then fry it in your stock pot first. If there is a lot of fat, drain it off. Add the water, split peas, onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper, optional parsley. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer for 3-4 hours. Let it cool a little bit. Remove the ham bone and take the meat off the bone. Return the meat to the pot. Discard the bone. Bring the pot to a boil again. If you are adding fresh or frozen peas, do it now. Let them cook a minute or two. Remove pot from heat. Serve.


I’ve made this enough times now that I feel comfortable sharing. It’s based on a recipe I found at Chena Girl Cooks and she based hers on the Barefoot Contessa. The main WOW of this recipe is the meatballs. And I mean WOW. I have been lucky to get a majority of them into the soup. [Because they are SO good people, myself included, simply eat them off the baking sheet and I’m saying, “Hey, those are for the soup, but go ahead and have one.” Who can stop at one?] These meatballs would make an awesome party food by themselves. The other adjustments that I’ve made is to use baby spinach instead of kale and to use shirataki noodles instead of pasta stars. I use the shirataki noodles found fresh in the deli case. I don’t know if they even come dried. All that’s necessary to prepare them is to rinse thoroughly with water. I chop mine before putting them in the soup so that’s it’s easier to ladle into bowls. My grocer only carries shirataki spaghetti and shirataki fettucine, if there were something smaller I would use it. Shirataki noodles are basically no-carb and so mentally it evens out the bread crumbs in the meatballs. Just sayin’.

Shirataki noodles

Anyway, because I’m not “cooking” pasta in the soup, I do not use nearly as much liquid. I’ll give you the recipe the way I make it, but you should explore Chena Girl and Contessa, too.

Chicken Italian sausage


1 lb. chicken Italian sausage

2 T. milk

2/3 c. breadcrumbs

1/3 c. grated Parmesan

1 egg, beaten

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. parsley flakes

kosher salt and fresh pepper


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 celery ribs, diced

4 c. chicken stock

1/2 c. dry white wine

5 oz. baby spinach

½ Tbsp. minced fresh dill

8 oz. shirataki spaghetti (chopped into 2″ sections or so to make ladling easier)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Meatballs: combine all ingredients.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You should have approximately 35 meatballs. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Soup: on medium-low heat, add the olive oil to a large soup pot.  Cook the onions, celery, and carrots for 8-10 minutes or until soft.  Add the stock and wine and bring it to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer for a few minutes. Add spinach and dill, spaghetti, and meatballs and cook for about a minute or so to heat through.

ItalianWeddingSoup2Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a little extra grated Parmesan.


This is a hearty soup, especially good served with a crusty bread. It’s easy to make while camping or at the cabin.

Fry 1 lb Italian sausage, 1 chopped onion, 3 chopped celery stalks, 3 chopped carrots, 1 Tbsp. lemon peel in a large pan until the sausage is cooked through.

Fry 1 lb Italian sausage, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped celery stalks, 2 chopped carrots, 1 Tbsp. lemon peel in a large pan until the sausage is cooked through.

Stir in 1 quart (or liter) of chicken broth, 2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained, and 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Simmer for 45 minutes. Serve.

Stir in 1 quart (or liter) of chicken broth, 2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained, and 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 45 minutes. Serve.