A Brief History of Succotash
Succotash is a dish I remember from elementary school days. Beans and corn, harvested from summer crops, were a familiar and classic mixture known to many of us as Succotash. Succotash Chowder is a soup made from the same ingredients as Succotash but with the addition of milk to make it a chowder.
The word succotash is the Narragansett word “sohquttahhash,” meaning “broken corn.” The Narragansett tribe had its roots in Rhode Island. These American Indians not only named the dish but introduced it to our pilgrim forefathers. An early version of succotash was most likely on the table at Thanksgiving Dinner. Sometimes succotash is baked in casserole form and topped with a pie crust like a pot pie.
Because the ingredients were relatively inexpensive and readily available, succotash was a popular dish during the Great Depression in the United States. Another reason for its popularity may have been the combination of grain (corn) with a legume (lima beans) producing a dish high in essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are needed for the body’s everyday functioning.
Succotash Chowder Recipe
- 1 medium potato, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 3 stalks celery, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 3 cups corn (fresh or frozen & defrosted)
- 2-3 cups cooked baby lima beans
- 4 cups milk
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- Finely minced parsley and/or chives (optional)
- Cook the diced potato in boiling water until just tender. Drain well and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large pan or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, celery, red bell pepper, salt and herbs.
- Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onion, celery and bell pepper are tender.
- Stir in the corn and saute for about 10 minutes more.
- Add the cooked beans.
- For a thicker soup, puree some of the soup in a food processor or blender. Return to the Dutch oven or pan.
- Add potatoes and milk. Season to taste with black pepper and correct salt.
- Serve very hot, topped with minced fresh herbs, if available.
Variations on a Theme
There are many variations in making succotash such as adding okra, tomatoes, yellow squash, bacon and even shrimp! Therefore, there could also be many variations in making Succotash Chowder! I encourage you to take every recipe and make adjustments, additions and subtractions to make a dish your very own. The New Moosewood Cookbook version of this recipe is a vegetarian recipe but if you do eat meat, bacon would go so well with the corn and other vegetables. Fresh basil or other herbs make a great garnish!
I believe you could freeze Succotash Chowder if you don’t add the milk to it. Soups with milk don’t seem to freeze well. Frozen Succotash Chowder could be thawed, then heated up and the milk added near the end of the cooking time. If you needed Succotash Chowder to take to a pot-luck supper you could pour it into a slow cooker for transport and then plug it into a power source to keep it warm until serving time.
This chowder is great in the summertime with fresh corn and other vegetables but may be prepared year round using frozen corn and frozen baby lima beans. If you want to save even more money, use dried baby lima beans. If using dried beans, soak 1 to 1 1/2 cups beans in water at least 4 hours or overnight. Cook in plenty of simmering water for 35 to 40 minutes, or until perfectly tender. Try not to overcook the beans or the soup will become mushy.
Anyone who has seen Looney Tunes cartoons haS probably heard Sylvester the Cat as well as some other cartoon characters exclaiming “sufferin’ succotash!” Sufferin’ succotash was a catchphrase used by Sylvester the Cat as an expressions of surprise and annoyance. In case you somehow missed this, please click on the video below.
I hope you’ll try Succotash Chowder soon – it’s a hearty soup that everyone will enjoy!
Remember to Savor the Flavor!
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