Cabbage-Cheese Chowder (Oklahoma, 1970s)


There’s something adorable about this recipe.  Not because it’s great or even especially good, but because I feel like it captures the essence of a lot of the recipes Adventures in Food in one fell swoop.  This is a recipe from one harried homemaker to another; a quick weeknight meal cobbled together from what’s on hand, with some vegetables thrown in to make it ‘healthy’.   A can of soup, a cup of milk, a few cups of cabbage, and some finely diced baloney.  Mix it together and heat it up and that’s about it.

The baloney is what makes this recipe lovable.  Like a lot of people my age I grew up on a steady diet of baloney and mayonnaise sandwiches.  Cheap and easy and high in protein.  My kids, on the other hand, have been raised on sliced, formed deli meats which – in the twenty-first century – are cheaper and frankly tastier and better for you than B-O-L-O-G-N-A.   They made it well into their teenage years before they ever saw a slice of baloney in the house.   These days, if I get the itch for a baloney sandwich I pick up a couple of slices from my local butcher, who makes an excellent all-beef house bologna.  And even then my kids think it’s foul.

But this isn’t a baloney sandwich – this is diced baloney in soup.   Ham or sausage or bacon bits I’d expect in soup, but baloney not so much.  And I worried a little bit that this recipe might reflect the financial status or cooking skills of the woman who submitted it.  I like to have a little bit of fun on this site poking fun at the sensibilities and culinary choices of prior generations, but calling out a specific person for being poor or unsophisticated just seems uncool.   I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case.  The author of this recipe also submitted an excellent recipe for Spanish Steak as well as a whole suite of recipes based around a Master Cookie Mix.   She certainly knows her way around the kitchen, but I suspect that baloney for this recipe was simply a practical choice.  Who doesn’t appreciate a frugal, thirty-minute meal?

And it’s actually not half bad.  The end result is more like a pasta and cheese dish than a chowder.  The cheddar cheese soup is thick to begin with, and there’s more cabbage than liquid.  It’s like a less ridiculous version of “cheesy zoodles”.   The baloney is still pretty weird, but it’s kind of like cutting up hot dogs into your macaroni and cheese, a time-honored comfort food flavor profile.  I even went out of my way to buy the cheapest baloney they had, and I’m convinced it’s still a better choice than bacon or ham.  It’s not haute cuisine, but it will warm your bones on a cold night and still give you a proper serving of vegetables.

And while it’s unlikely I’ll ever serve this to the crew for dinner, I’m pleasantly surprised by how well the cheddar soup pairs with the cabbage.  Not quite inspired to the level of cheddar and broccoli, but still an effective way to trick the uninitiated into eating their cabbage.  Leave out the baloney and add a little more cabbage and you’ve got a quick and easy side dish for a bratwurst or gooey topping for an all-beef hot dog.

 

Cabbage-Cheese Chowder (Oklahoma, 1970s)

  • Preparation: 5 min
  • Cooking: 10 min
  • Ready in: 15 min
  • For: 4 bowls
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine soup, milk, and mustard in a medium saucepan. Stir in cabbage and bologna.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat until cooked through and cabbage is crisp tender, about 10 minutes.

Notes

For other baloney recipes, check out Home Cookin’ with Dave’s Mom.


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