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Chef Jillian; photo by Rachael Sullivan, Kettle Cuisine
by Phyllis M. Cahaly, Director of Partnership Marketing, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
What’s cozier on a cold winter’s day than a steaming bowl of your favorite soup? Whether it’s everyone’s favorite chicken noodle, a hearty minestrone, or the ubiquitous tomato soup, with a grilled cheese sandwich at the ready of course, soup is the ultimate comfort food. Grab a bowl, a mug or a thermos, soup is just so easy to enjoy at home or on-the-go! It guides us through the cold winter months and even provides us with cold options in the summer months as well.
In honor of January being National Soup Month, we are delighted to let you know about Kettle Cuisine soup manufacturers in Lynn, Massachusetts. Founded in 1986 by Jerry Shafir in Revere, Massachusetts with seven core soups distributed to only the New England foodservice market, the company is now under the leadership of CEO, Liam McClennon and distributes a vast portfolio of fresh and frozen foods to their Foodservice and Retail partners across the country. Kettle Cuisine’s business has been built upon a belief in honest, quality products and an unwavering commitment to the artful process of making wholesome food.
Their corporate office is in Lynn, Massachusetts where you will find Chef Jillian Manory, Director of Culinary Development watching over a massive, three-shift, 24/7 production line. Chef Jillian is a native of Framingham, Massachusetts and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. While she majored in baking and pastry arts, her transfer into the world of soup is not that far of a stretch, “The scientific approach to our research and development is very similar to the science of baking in that we have to capture detailed measurements and notes when preparing our soups,” says Chef Jillian who has been with Kettle Cuisine for over 10 years.
She fondly recalls her interview with Kettle Cuisine and walking through the giant kitchen which was wafting with amazing aromas and witnessing all of the hand chopping, fresh, scratch-made stocks and roux being prepared, like in a smaller home kitchen but on a much larger scale. That homemade, artisan flavor is really the key to Kettle Cuisine, where all the soups are really cooked in giant kettles, 25 to be exact!
Chef Jillian spends her days working with hundreds of customers who are national restaurants and retailers who, in turn, sell to their own patrons. She says that there is never a dull moment or a dull day as she works chef-to-chef to help develop products or fill menu gaps; she also works with internal buyers and the sales teams to help bring products into fruition. She helps provide ideation lists to help develop seasonality, trends, limited time products or even to match and enhance existing products by providing tasting samples.
Among those hundreds of recipes, their 1986 original New England Clam Chowder recipe is hands down the most popular and hundreds of their clients feature it on their menus. “If you eat soup, you’ve had our soup either at a restaurant or a function or at a smaller, independent restaurant,” says Chef Jillian, “In fact, in addition to the New England Clam Chowder, our customers also carry many of our other most popular varieties including Chicken Noodle, Broccoli Cheddar and Tomato Soups, among dozens of others!”
While Kettle Cuisine has acquired four additional production facilities in California, Maryland, Washington and Wisconsin, increasing their capabilities and geographical reach, the Massachusetts facility in Lynn remains the flagship location. Here in Massachusetts everything they produce is made in kettles, from soups to sauces to mac ‘n cheese to chilis and oatmeal.
Plus, the Massachusetts facility is historic and is a family affair! There are team members who have worked there for more than 30 years; multi-generational family members working in tandem in the factory and on the production floor. “The energy on the production floor is wonderful,” says Chef Jillian, “It’s amazing to see how the same products continue to have that same special feeling, a lot of people who are so passionate about the brand and have grown with it as the company has grown.”
Kettle Cuisine’s roots are in artisan cooking, and they have grown to please the consumer’s desire to know about the origins and ingredients in their food. Their R&D has hundreds of projects in the pipeline throughout the kitchen and development is driven by their customers’ timelines, soup launches, soup rotations and seasonality. They are constantly incorporating ingredients and flavor trends into new recipes and some of Chef Jillian’s new projects, and loves, includes complex flavoring like Pozole, Pho and Ramens. After 10 years, she still loves the soup category and is charged by the global expansion of soups, stews and curries and in crisscrossing different cultures into soup products.
Are you wondering if Chef Jillian eats soup every day? Well, here’s the answer, “I love soup and I do eat it most days of the week,” says Chef Jillian, “But I have to be careful not to get true palette fatigue!”
Chef Jillian has lived on the North Shore for more than eight years and loves to explore the area, “I love the North Shore, I think it’s just the best place, “says Chef Jillian. She also loves meeting and working with people and feeding people too! “I like to feed people and create memories around the food itself,” says Chef Jillian. Her favorite go-to snack? Cheffie Tip: Frozen peanut-butter stuffed dates!
Moroccan Inspired Chicken and Chickpea Stew with Harissa
Neutral Oil 2 Tablespoons
Onions, diced 1 each
Carrots, diced 1 medium
Red Pepper, diced 1/2 cup
Garlic, minced 2 cloves
Harissa Spice Blend 2 Tablespoons
Turmeric 1 teaspoon
Ground Cumin 1 teaspoon
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes ¼ teaspoon
Black Pepper ½ teaspoon
Tomato Paste 2 Tablespoons
Chicken Stock 1.5 quarts
French Lentils ½ cup
Butternut Squash, diced ¼ of a large squash
Chicken Thigh, diced ¾ lb
Capers, drained 1 Tablespoon
Golden Raisins ¼ cup
Malatya Apricots, small diced ¼ cup
Chickpeas, drained 1 can
Cilantro, finely chopped ½ small bunch + more for garnish
Lemon, juiced 1 ea
Extra Virgin Olive Oil drizzle to taste
Salt season to taste
- Heat oil in 4 qt pot
- Add onions and sauté until translucent.
- Add carrots and red peppers and cook until starting to soften.
- Add garlic, cook until fragrant.
- Add harissa, turmeric, cumin, red pepper flakes, black pepper – cook 1 minute.
- Add tomato paste – cook 1 minute.
- Add chicken stock, heat to simmer.
- Add lentils and simmer approximately 20 minutes until halfway cooked.
- Add squash, chicken, capers, raisins, apricots and cook until squash and lentils are cooked through, and internal temperature of chicken has hit at least 165F.
- Add chickpeas, cilantro, lemon juice olive oil, and salt to taste.
- Serve warm and garnish with additional cilantro, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a dollop of yogurt.
Recipe courtesy of Kettle Cuisine, Lynn, Massachusetts