I always tried to send my kids their favorite food when I used to put together college care packages, but it wasn’t always the easiest thing to ship. My son really liked Manhattan clam chowder, so I gave it a go in his Halloween college care package. I made this chowder with freezing in mind and it worked!
Jump to: RECIPE | Ideas for College Care Packages
When putting together their college care packages, I tried to cover a range of categories, from what they “need” to what they might “want”. The two photos below show what went in my son’s Freshman care package. Both kids are young adults now, but I still try and send them holiday packages whenever I can. There’s just something special about getting a snail mail package from mom!
Categories for a College Care Package
- Food – food is a standard category of course, but the type of food will be unique to your student. My son complained his Freshman year about not being able to find Manhattan Clam Chowder anywhere. I didn’t believe him, but he was right! For some reason, the grocery stores don’t carry Manhattan Clam Chowder any longer. This food item was tricky however, because I needed to send it frozen. I looked into dry ice, but decided in the end to freeze the soup solid and pack it in an insulated bag with ice. Success!
- Seasonal – My son was in college in Connecticut where there was plenty of rainy days, so I sent an umbrella (in his school colors). Simple, but not the kind of thing he generally thinks of needing, until he needs it.
- Mother Love – I always sent a “Congratulations” card with a note inside. There is always something you can find to congratulate them on, whether it be working through a room-mate problem, a test score, showing leadership in a group….anything. In this case it was a high score on his Econ. exam.
- Light Reading Material – My son was on the golf team and is tall and thin. He’s always interested in nutrition and workouts relevant to his sport, so I usually send him related magazines for relaxed reading.
- Sentimental Stuff – This can be tricky, but a mom does what she has to do. I framed a photo I had of his girlfriend and he at prom. They either really appreciate the gesture or they get mad at you for making an assumption. Be a risk-taker….they usually liked it.
- Clothing – or a certificate for college clothing at the bookstore
- Money – Goes without saying. Always appreciated.
Manhattan Clam Chowder: Recipe for Freezing
Manhattan Clam Chowder for Freezing
- 5 slices bacon
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 stalks celery chopped (1 cup)
- 4-5 small carrots peeled and chopped (about 3/4 cups)
- 6 cloves garlic minced with 1/2 tsp coarse salt (1 1/2 Tbsp garlic)
- 2-3 bay leaves
- ¼ tsp celery seed
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme chopped (1 tsp)
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 3 cups Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 3 8-oz bottles clam broth plus 1 1/2 cups clam broth reserved from cans of chopped clams
- ½ cups chicken stock
- 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 2-3 dried tomatoes optional
- 1 tsp kosher salt divided
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 6.5-oz cans of chopped clams (I like Snows the best, but use your favorite brand)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped (for fresh garnish)
- In a large heavy pot or dutch oven add bacon and cook over medium heat until golden and crispy, about five minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towels and pour off all fat except 1 Tablespoon.5 slices bacon
- Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to dutch oven and then add onion, celery, carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened. Do not brown the vegetables.2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 large yellow onion, 2 stalks celery, 4-5 small carrots
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, celery seed, thyme and red pepper and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.6 cloves garlic, 2-3 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp celery seed, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- Increase heat to high and add potatoes, clam broth and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium high for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and hot sauces and continue to cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. If preparing for freezing, potatoes should be slightly soft , but not all the way softened (essentially parboiled). If preparing for immediate serving, cook until potatoes are tender.3 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, 3 8-oz bottles clam broth plus 1 1/2 cups clam broth reserved from cans of chopped clams, 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp kosher salt, 2-3 dried tomatoes
- Remove pot from heat and add reserved clams, season with additional salt and pepper if desired, (add parsley now unless you are freezing), and cover. Allow chowder to sit for up to 1 hour to meld flavors. If serving fresh, reheat chowder slowly without boiling. If freezing, cool completely and package in airtight containers and freeze solidly. When ready to serve, reheat slowly, making sure the chowder does not boili.Reseason with salt and pepper to your own taste and top with parsley.4 6.5-oz cans of chopped clams, 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- Serve with your favorite hot sauce and sour cream if desired.