Come Into My Kitchen

Snowball soup gets a nod from the North Pole

Steve Holtman of Prairie Village makes Santa’s Snowball Soup for Christmas Eve.
Steve Holtman of Prairie Village makes Santa’s Snowball Soup for Christmas Eve. The Kansas City Star

It’s Christmas Eve, so Santa Claus will sup on soup. His recipe for “snowball” chicken soup is part of a warm and satisfying meal that won’t weigh Santa down as he travels the world over.

Santa agreed to take some time away from checking his list twice to cook up some magic in the Prairie Village home of Steve Holtman, who has been married to Carolyn for 44 years.

When Santa isn’t working in his toyshop, he also enjoys barbecuing Kansas City-style and hopes Mrs. Claus has an outdoor smoker under the Christmas tree for him.

Residence: North Pole

Occupation: Toy maker with once-a-year, door-to-door delivery service

Special cooking interests: Soups, stews and barbecues.

Why did you choose this special chicken soup recipe to share? This is the soup that Mrs. Claus makes for the elves and me to warm us up on the cold days at the North Pole. It’s so easy to make and I like to cut up carrots — if the reindeer don’t get them first.

The dumplings look like snowballs in the soup and it is my favorite soup. Mrs. Claus keeps filling my bowl until I am stuffed because there’s so much work to be done on Christmas Eve. But I’m not so full that I can’t enjoy the cookies and milk the children leave for me.

So, are you filled with extra sweetness come Christmas Day? Yes, Santa has a sweet tooth. I like every kind of cookie, from chocolate chip to Christmas sugar cookies — although it can be a bit awkward to have to eat the cookies shaped like Santa.

A little known secret is that I’m a peanut butter cookie man, and the chewier the cookies, the better I like them. Oh, how I love to wash those cookies down with a cold glass of milk, too!

Do you think the elves and Mrs. Claus received your subtle hints about wanting an outdoor smoker this year? I do love to barbecue. And in Kansas City, there are die-hard fans who will smoke and barbecue all year long. In fact, I’ve heard of people clearing a path to their grill after a snowfall before they shovel off their driveway and sidewalk.

I would use my smoker year-round if I am lucky enough to get one. It will keep me warm outside and out of Mrs. Claus’ hair, if she’s trying to make something in the kitchen. I don’t just barbecue meats, either. I also like to grill veggies, such as red and green peppers — Christmas colors, of course — and zucchini and summer squash.

Do you think it’s good for children to help out in the kitchen? There’s so much more than eating that happens in today’s kitchens. Children on the Nice list will help with chores, whether they’re making a meal with their family or helping to clean it all up afterwards. It gives me so much joy when children respect their parents and remember that family is very important.

I also want children to know that even if they are gone from their home, visiting others at Christmas, I still know where to find them. I love to see the joy of Christmas in the eyes of children — I just eat it up. It’s important for everyone to remember the reason for the season and to share your love with one another.

Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at pepi@kc.rr.com to nominate a cook.

Santa’s Snowball Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 stalks celery, washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice

6 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 cups cooked, bite-sized chicken pieces

1 1/2 cups baking mix (see note)

1/2 cup milk

Into a large soup pot, boil carrots and celery in chicken stock, seasoned with pepper, over high heat on cooktop for 1 minute. Turn heat down to medium-low, cover pot tightly with lid and allow the broth and vegetables to simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken to pot and allow soup to continue to simmer as the dumplings are prepared.

In a mixing bowl, stir baking mix and milk together until a soft dough forms. As the soup simmers, drop the dough by tablespoons into the hot broth.

Place the lid tightly on the soup pot and allow to simmer another 10 minutes. Before serving, test the dumplings for doneness by making sure a toothpick inserted into the center of the dumpling comes out clean.

Note: Santa prefers Bisquick brand baking mix.

Per serving, based on 4: 300 calories (28 percent from fat), 14 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 62 milligrams cholesterol, 37 grams carbohydrates, 43 grams protein, 684 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.

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