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Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder inspired by Popeye | #FoodnFlix

Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder
Our Food 'n Flix pick for this month is the 1980 live action Popeye film starring Robin Williams. So, here's the thing—this film isn't for everybody. I say this because before I actually had time to sit down and watch it, I had a friend who repeatedly told me how horrible it was...that it wasn't worth watching...that she'd rather do pretty much anything other than be subjected to watching it again. So imagine her dismay when, after I sat down to watch it, I reported back that I actually kind of liked it.

Here's my theory: if you are/were a fan of the Popeye comic strip and cartoons, you'll appreciate this live action version. But if you never really got into Popeye, you may hate this movie. Guess what? I grew up with Popeye cartoons. My grandpa used to record hours of old cartoons on VHS tapes that included all sorts of old Looney Tunes shows, Pink Panther, and Popeye. We used to watch them for hours when I went to visit him, and I watched them at home. I love all of those old cartoons to this day.

The reason I say this is that the live action movie is basically the cartoon come to life. It's big and boisterous and exaggerated and completely over-the-top with slapstick and horrible singing. It was goofy and lovable in the same way that the cartoons were goofy and lovable. That being said, I doubt I'll watch it more than a couple of times a decade (I'd rather stick with the cartoon). But I get it.
Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder
So, about the begins with Popeye rowing through stormy seas to arrive at the coastal town of Sweethaven. The majority of this small town doesn't look kindly on outsiders, but he finds a room to rent at a small in run by the Oyl's, where he meets Olive. Olive is engaged to Bluto, but realizes that she doesn't really love him. She and Popeye form a bond when a baby (Swee'Pea) falls in their lap, and they become "parents". This enrages Bluto, who also happens to control the town, and his jealousy is taken out on the entire Oyl family.

As in the cartoons, Swee'Pea is no normal baby, as he can predict the outcome of certain events with a whistle, which leads "uncle Wimpy" taking him to bet on the horse races. Bluto realizes what the baby can do and kidnaps him. This finally leads to a Popeye/Bluto encounter and the only spinach-fueled fight of the movie.
Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder
I actually found a lot of food references within the movie (I wound up with 3 pages of notes). Sweethaven was a coastal town, with a sign for "live shrimp" and an octopus in the final scene, so fresh fish and seafood would be a good choice. And while spinach is always an obvious choice when it comes to Popeye, despite spying a can of spinach early on, it didn't really make its appearance until the end of the movie.

Some of the other appearances, mentions, or inspirations involving food were peppermint stick, carrots, canned broccoli, olive oil, ketchup, mustard, milk, vinegar, chicken, meatballs, potatoes, shots of liquor, cake, beer, meat on the bone, "Roughouse Special" (burger), Roughouse punch, tea, glass candy (when Bluto eats his tea cup), Oxblood Oxheart (ox blood and ox hearts), ham gravy (Olive's ex, Harold Hamgravy), peanuts, sweet peas (Swee'Pea), popcorn, canned brussels sprouts, and lemons (a horse named Sucking Lemons). I also got a kick out of "the commodore" asking Popeye, "Olive oil? Sweet Pea? What are you doing, making a salad?".
Soup Burger from the Popeye movie
I had so many ideas floating through my head; I thought about making olive burgers or seared octopus with spinach (or maybe a sweet pea salad with olive oil vinaigrette). But instead I pulled from a scene about an hour into the movie, when Bluto begins making things hard on the Oyl family by taxing them and taking away a lot of their belongings. We see Wimpy spooning something onto a hamburger bun, with Geezil asking him about it.

"What is that glop you're eating?" 

"It's a Soup Burger. These are difficult times...burgers can't be chosers."

Soup Burger. Burger Soup. Cheeseburger Soup. Bacon Cheeseburger Soup! Wimpy would be in heaven.

Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder
All the flavors and ingredients of a bacon cheeseburger infused into a hearty bowl of chowder.
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Bacon Cheeseburger Soup
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Keywords: soup/stew beef bacon cheese American

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
    for the hamburger bun croutons:
    • 3 sesame seed hamburger buns, diced
    • olive oil
    • kosher salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    for the soup:
    • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices
    • 1 pound lean ground beef (96/4)
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
    • 2 stalks celery, cut into small dice
    • 1 large carrot, grated
    • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into small dice
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
    • 2 cups milk
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese + more to garnish
    • kosher salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
    Make the croutons:
    Preheat oven to 400° F. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil, then sprinkle a big pinch of salt and pepper over and toss to combine and spread in a single layer. Slide into hot oven and bake until crisp and golden, 10-12 minutes; set aside until ready to serve.

    Make the soup:
    Set a 4-quart soup pot over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, 10-12 minutes. Scoop the cooked bacon out with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel-lined plate.

    Increase heat to medium and add the ground beef to the pot with the bacon grease; sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, then cook and crumble until completely browned, ~6 minutes. Set a wire-mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the cooked ground beef into it, making sure all of the grease is out of the pot. Set aside for now.

    Increase heat to medium-high and add the butter to the pot. Once melted, add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, stirring often, 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir until no dry spots remain; let cook 1 minute.

    Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, milk, and Worcestershire sauce and cook until slightly thick, stirring almost constantly, 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes, then bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, ~15 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender.

    Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and reserved ground beef, then taste and adjust with salt and pepper, as needed. Thin with more stock or milk if the soup seems to thick.

    Serve hot, garnished with reserved bacon, croutons, green onion, and extra cheese.

    -adapted from Damn Delicious, who adapted from The Recipe Critic, who adapted from Taste of Home

    Bacon Cheeseburger Chowder inspired by Popeye | #FoodnFlix
    Food 'n Flix club logo
    This month's edition of Food 'n Flix is hosted by Elizabeth at The Lawyer's Cookbook with her choice Popeye. If you'd like to join us this month, submissions are due by July 29.

    Next month Kimberly from Coffee and Casseroles will be hosting with her pick, Hotel Transylvania 2.