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Stockpot Recommendations from New England Soup Factory

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hey guys I am trying to learn how to cook soup, I bought this book titled New England Soup Factory Cookbook written by Marjorie Druker and in it the author recommends getting All-Clad cook ware but doesn't specify what particular line or what metals it should be made out of.

 

I had two questions, the first is what particular stockpot would you guys recommend? Like what brand/metal/model.

 

My second question is I am also gonna start cooking mashed potatoes and was wondering if maybe I could get like a 4 quart stock pot or saucepan and use it both for cooking soups and mashed potatoes? Two birds with one stone so I can buy one expensive pot instead of two average ones. I only cook for myself 95% of the time so I don't think I need an 8 quart stock pot like the author of this book recommends.

post #2 of 20

4 quarts is not an efficient size generally speaking. Too small. And a big pot can work fine only partially filled.

 

Many sets come with 4 and 5 quart pots as a  cost savings mechanism. But that's small for most batches of chili or soups, but can make for a fine braising pot/dutch oven.

 

Most here wouldn't consider it a stock pot until it hits 8 or 12 quarts capacity, 12 being the most commonly recommended size. 12 is  a versatile size for big things like a seafood boil or turkey stock or whole lobsters.

 

It takes very little effort to make a bigger batch of stock, compared to a smaller batch so you save time and effort in the long run over little batches. Stock is a basic ingredient in a tremendous range of dishes and critical for sauces so it's always worth having plenty on hand or at the ready in the freezer.

 

You want a stainless pot with a heavy base over any other criteria. A disk base is fine, in fact all of my stock pots are disk based, not multi-ply clad ware. Nothing wrong with clad cookware, in fact it's a very functional type of cookware, but it costs more. For a stock pot, I don't see any return in performance nor is it worth the extra cost or weight. 

 

There are a lot of worthwhile disk bottomed pots. Most of mine are Tramontina as they're well made and inexpensive. Target's house brand can be a good deal too, Chef's Mate  or Chef's Choice  I think they're called? Probably the 12 qt would be only on the web site though.  All-Clad makes good cookware but you pay a lot for it. Also check Walmart on-line for some good deals on a 12 qt pot.

 

Yes, even if just cooking for one. It's worth it. And get  a dedicated freezer as it's the best friend for cooking for one in managing leftovers and preventing waste.

post #3 of 20

I agree with almost everything Phil said---until he got to the part about All-Clad making good pots. You couldn't prove it by me; they're overpriced and the company doesn't stand behind it's products.

 

Lot's of other good brands around, as he said, which don't cost as much and do the job just fine.

 

One thing I'd recommend. Go to a store and eyeball a 4-quart pot. Then visualze how much of it would be taken up by ingredients for making stock (f'rinctance, mentally put a chicken in it). For a lot of work and expense you'd wind up with, at best, a quart or a quart and a half of stock. 

 

When you convert that stock to soup, you'd be using, typically, 6 cups. In other words, one stock recipe's worth. So you can see why 12 quarts is usually the smallest recommended. Personally, I prefer a 16 quarter for day-in-day-out stock making.

 

Now it is true that once you have a supply of stock you could use the 4-quart pot to make the actual soup. But you can, as Phil indicates, use the stock pot just as well. So there's no need to buy both.

 

 

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 20
Circumnavigate:

May I suggest, if you're looking to expand your soup skills, you check out Barbara Kafka's Soup which has several hundred carefully-researched recipes as well as stocks and other good stuff.

Here's a few quotes from a recent Internet biography:

"Most recently, her book, Soup A Way of Life, has been on the bestseller list of The Los Angeles Times and Amazon.com."..."She compiled and edited The James Beard Celebration Cookbook (pro bono), :..." For many years she taught with James Beard, as well as teaching around the country on her own."

She's been around, kitchenwise; also as a restaurant consultant. She's a 1955 graduate of Radcliffe. (Not much culinary instruction there, though.)

If you're getting into soups, it merits your attention.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #5 of 20

Many people don't believe what I use as a stockpot. Its an older Fryolater table  3 Gal. fryer. A place I worked in years ago purchased new ones and I bought this. It is one of the best things I ever purchased . The Temp is even and adjustable Its stainless steel and easy to clean. Works on regular household current.. Only problem its big for my sink so I take it outside to clean it..

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #6 of 20

I think if you're looking for versatility, it would be hard to do better than a dutch oven.  Cast iron in particular heats evenly, retains heat really well, and can be used for searing, sauteeing, and deglazing during the soup making process.  They are the first choice for a lot of cooks, home or pro.

 

Le Creuset and Staub are very good but expensive.  This one on the other hand is very affordable, and is even more versatile because its lid can be used as a skillet:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-5-Quart-Double-Casserole-Skillet/dp/tags-on-product/B000LEXR0K

 

I bought it a few weeks ago and absolutely love it.  The size should be good for up to three or four people (really -- who has more than a quart of soup in one sitting?), but not so big that it would be hard to handle in a sink.

 

The only drawbacks are that it's heavy and you will need to learn how to maintain cast iron, which is just that you scrub it with hot water after use (don't even need soap generally if it's seasoned), then dry it on stove top and rub a little cooking oil on it while it's dry and hot.  Believe me your efforts will be richly rewarded.

 

If the seasoning gives you pause, the same company, Lodge -- American company making their stuff in America -- also makes enameled cast iron, which doesn't need to be seasoned:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-EC6D43-Enameled-Cast-Iron-6-Quart/dp/B000N501BK

 

 

Cast iron works great, lasts forever, and Lodge is made in America.  To me that set of attributes is pretty hard to beat.

post #7 of 20

Point by point I agree with you, Capcaicin. But that still leaves the OP the problem of not having a stockpot. He needs something bigger than a Dutch oven for that, and my impression is that he's trying to conserve both space and costs. Which means only one pot for starters.

 

(really -- who has more than a quart of soup in one sitting?),

 

Which is why the kitchen gods gave us freezers and canning kettles. Not only to let us prepare things in bulk. Many soups actually improve with age.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 20

I do see your point.  However, if he's going to live by himself (first apartment...  awwww...  I remember those days...) a good number of the meals will be eaten alone.  It really sucks to have to wash a 12 or 16 quart stock pot after you make mashed potatoes for one.  Even if he made a week's worth at a time (yeah...  I *definitely* remember those days...) and froze a lot of it, that won't be more than 4-6 quarts' worth of cooking, and I personally would not look forward to washing 12-16 quarts of pot for 4-6 quarts of cooking; even if he had a dishwasher, a 16-quarter is not likely to fit into it.

 

Personally, if I had to do it all over again, I would have gotten the cast iron dutch oven ($35) for day to day cooking -- great value both for money and space because you also get a skillet with it -- and then a 10 or 12 quart cheapo (think $10 in the right store) enameled marbleware stockpot.  Storage-wise, that particular dutch oven does not have a handle, and you will almost definitely be able to actually store it IN the stockpot (be careful with chipping the enamel though).

 

The next piece I would add to that would be a 2-3 quart sauce pan for quick reheating and small dishes.

 

Anyway I have some AllClad, and to me they are quite good (though their disc-bottom stockpot is made in China from Chinese steel, and after several previous experiences with that combination, you can't pay me enough to let the stuff touch my food).  However they are also quite overpriced, and the length of the handle is very annoying in a small kitchen.  In my opinion if you go stainless many companies are as good or better -- Sur La Table's house stainless line for example.  Or whatshisname that black Swedish guy.  His stuff is also okay.

 

But for a beginning kitchen I stand by my recommendations.  Dutch oven/skillet combo first, marbleware stockpot if you find that it's not enough, and add the saucepan after that if you feel the need later on.


Edited by Capsaicin - 3/19/11 at 11:08am
post #9 of 20

Mashed potatoes for one can be made in a basic saucepan, 2 or 3 quart is plenty. Heck, even a skillet would do the job. No need to use the big stockpot.

post #10 of 20

True, but you're assuming that he has one already.  From the post it sounds like he doesn't have something to cook mashed potatoes in right now.

 

I still say that 5-quart dutch oven/skillet combo would be the best starting place for what he's talking about.  Dutch ovens already pull double duty because you can use them to bake or roast in in addition to stove top stuff, and the skillet lid adds to that (baking dish?  pie pan?  sizzling platter server?  the lid will cover it (haha)!), so he can do *lots* of stuff other than soup and mash once he gets sick of those (I give it six to eight weeks...).  The fact that it does not have a long handle (though Lodge also makes one that has handles if you want that) would also be good for space imho.

 

Skillet and dutch ovens are things he will probably need anyway.  He can always add to that.


Edited by Capsaicin - 3/20/11 at 1:37pm
post #11 of 20

I have a 12-quart All Clad stockpot that has a pasta insert. It's fabulous for soup and stock. I use the insert whenever I make veggie broth, which makes removing the veggies so easy. It's a wonderful pot and only costs $149, much less than the regular All Clad stockpots. You can order it from a variety of places like Chef's, Metro Kitchen, and Amazon. Williams Sonoma often has it on "sale" for $149, which is the standard price everywhere I've seen it.

post #12 of 20

I make 10-16 qts of scratch soups every working day.. (more than that then it goes into the steam kettle or tilt skillet) with a plain jane no name aluminum stock pot and any lid that covers.. sometimes I had to use a pizza pan because the lid was missing.

 

A stainless with disk bottom is fine and there's a lot of affodable options. I'd suggest 8 qt pot as a minimum.

 

I guess I'm unique as I don't enjoy using cast iron dutch ovens. To me their response time is slow and there's not much I can do with one that I can't do with other pots/pans.

 

If you want to go high tech.. I worked in a kitchen that had Turbo Pots. All the cooks prefered using these as they responded faster than conventional pots.

post #13 of 20

If one has storage space for a large stockpot then by all means get one that is eight quarts or over, stainless with the disk bottom.  A home cook isn't likely to use a stock pot frequently so storage is a factor, both as a utensil and for the product, i.e. freezer space. One doesn't hang a 8, 10, 12 quart pot from the ceiling unless one has 10 foot ceilings and a huge kitchen. 

 

I am single, a home cook, do have limited space; and I have an eight quart stainless pot I use about twice in a year for a supply of chicken stock and beef stock.  The rest of the time I use a coated, heavy weight aluminum five quart Dutch oven, a three quart enameled cast iron (cast iron is great but heavy) double handled saucepan.  Nearly all recipes can be down sized; several of the cooking software programs, i.e. MasterCook can automatically do this for one.  Soups are great, wonderful healthy, filling fare.  Good way to use bits and pieces of leftover food, extending cuts of meat.  Have a good time of it.

 

Rue

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by circumnavigate View Post

Hey guys I am trying to learn how to cook soup, I bought this book titled New England Soup Factory Cookbook written by Marjorie Druker and in it the author recommends getting All-Clad cook ware but doesn't specify what particular line or what metals it should be made out of.

 

I had two questions, the first is what particular stockpot would you guys recommend? Like what brand/metal/model.

 

My second question is I am also gonna start cooking mashed potatoes and was wondering if maybe I could get like a 4 quart stock pot or saucepan and use it both for cooking soups and mashed potatoes? Two birds with one stone so I can buy one expensive pot instead of two average ones. I only cook for myself 95% of the time so I don't think I need an 8 quart stock pot like the author of this book recommends.

 Let me break this down for you, if you make soup or stock the reality is you will be using a pretty low flame,and potatoes who cares,they can be made in any pot. I really don't think you need it, unles you want it then thats a new arguement. I've got an enameled 20/24 quart or something like that not sure and an all clad the all clad is to heavy I don't use it very much, oh yeah I use my enamel for canning sometimes too.

post #15 of 20

All I have home is commercial pots and pans so I have no opinion re.retail brands. I have had some of mine for over 40 years. Iwill say that the fellow who wants to make mashed for hiself should have at lest a 2 qt. saucepan or as someone brought out even a skillet to make mashed for 1 or 2 people. As far as soup or stockpot for a home I woulod have  at gallon capacity minimum.

 

Also All Clad does not stand behind anything it makes.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #16 of 20
It's really hard to beat cast iron Dutch ovens for low and slow. The makings for every good soup or stock.
post #17 of 20

Not that hard to beat  a commercial steam kettle is great, but not for home use. Your kitchen is not big enough

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #18 of 20

Note to Self: check out commercial steam kettles.  ;)

post #19 of 20

The shape of a stock pot for soups/stock is taller than wide, which allows more of a percolation effect, which is desirable for faster flavor extraction. Since space at home is a factor, one would want to consider the usefulness of the pot for other duties. No reactive pots are useful all around so do not buy aluminum. Since there is always liquid in the pot, one does not need a thick bottomed or thick-walled pot. My stock pot does double duty as I can do a clam bake, cook three lobsters at a time, or four pounds of spaghetti. It will hold the carcass of a 25 pound turkey for rendering the Thanksgiving bird to stock. As often as not, I cook soup in the oven to get low and slow. My pot has no plastic handles that would otherwise melt or degrade.

A brand of pot called Granite Ware comes in many sizes and is around $22 for a 22 quart pot.

post #20 of 20

I'm in stock pot mode myself at the moment, so my 2 cents worth... Circumstances similar to the OP in that I cook for myself mostly. However, I rarely go to the trouble to cook for only one meal. The 12 quart size has proven to be the most useful and I consider that size to be the one I can't do without. I had an 8 qt. once, and while it is convenient at times I now use a 6 1/2 qt. enameled dutch oven for milk based soups which tend to be made in smaller batches, and it covers this size range very well.

 

I eliminated bare aluminum because they don't like tomatoes, no anodized aluminum because the finish wears off, no single layer stainless because it doesn't transfer heat efficiently. Stainless is non-reactive but does not conduct heat like aluminum or copper, so that basically leaves you a few choices... aluminum or copper clad in stainless, or disc bottom. I'm sure some of the disc bottom pots are well made, but I prefer clad both for more even distribution, and since seeing a disc separate I can no longer think of them as anything more than a cost cutting compromise.

 

That leaves the fully clad in whichever brand hits the price/value equation. All Clad at almost $400 is for people whose dollars are less precious than mine, or who obtain part their identity from association with the brand. Vollrath Tribute at $90 (less lid) has industrial build and is well reviewed. Tramontina, $80 at wallyweird is nice quality at a modest price. I prefer a taller, narrower pot and Tribute dimensions are 12" wide by 6 1/4" tall. Tramontina is nearly the same at 11 1/2 wide. In the Tribute you can buy a 16 qt that's the same diameter and a bit taller (still wider than tall) for $10 more. The Tramontina 12 qt. stock pot is included in the 10 piece set at wallyweird for $220 and free shipping, which is a serious value if a few of the other pieces will be useful, and these are the larger sized pieces. I've come close to pulling the trigger on this but I have mental barriers with regard to both sets and wallywierd.  Katom has the best prices on Vollrath, and they have active coupons right now which basically cover the shipping cost.

 

I'm leaning toward the Vollrath 16 qt. even though I had decided that 12 qt. is the right size. The reason is that I haven't found a tri-clad in a narrower diameter, and as long as it's going to be this wide I might as well get it with a bit more height. If anyone knows of a quality tri-clad 12 qt. in this $100 price range please let me know. 

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