Well, I think we can call it official—it’s soup season.
Last week when the temperatures starting dropping lower and lower, my craving for something nourishing and warm went higher and higher. I longed for a hot bowl of soup that I could cup my hands around for warmth; a concoction so nourishing and wholesome that I could, at least for a little while, forget about the dangerous temps plummeting outside and the all-too-expensive whir of my furnace kicking in so frequently.
Trouble was I hadn’t done much to prepare for the cold as far as my pantry went. My shelves were looking a little bare and supplies were on the low side, so I knew creativity was going to be the key. But that’s what is so great about soup. This is one dish I have made many times not knowing exactly the outcome once I start preparations.
I remember one time making a batch of chicken soup when my son Jake was just a boy. He proclaimed me a gourmet chef, wherein I told him, “Son, necessity makes great cooks of us all,” which he accepted with aplomb, never really knowing how undisciplined I was in making this dish.
In addition, cooking this way can be tricky, especially if you make a really good batch and someone asks for the recipe. You are forced to go to the “a little of this and a little of that” philosophy, which many cooks find particularly irritating.
And that was my mode last week. The refrigerator revealed a couple of carrots and a stalk of celery, and in the freezer I found some turkey meat left over from Thanksgiving. A purple onion, a potato and a small bag of wild rice and I was good to go. It wasn’t long before I had a fragrant, nourishing concoction bubbling on the stove that I knew would do wonders to warm me on the inside as well as fill my kitchen with the aroma of a home-cooked meal.
This week I’ve included some of my favorite soup recipes to enjoy in case you’re not the adventuresome type or are better prepared. Either way, they will make this winter season a little warmer indeed.
Cheesy Broccoli Soup
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 Tbs. margarine
2 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, cubed
3/4 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 dash pepper
In a 2 quart saucepan, cook onions in margarine until tender. Add milk and cream cheese; stir over medium heat until cream cheese is melted. Add remaining ingredients; heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally.
2 lbs. ground beef
1 Tbs. olive oil, if ground beef is very lean
1 large onion, chopped
1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) stewed tomatoes – Mexican style, if available
1 can (10 to 15 oz.) Rotel tomatoes (or tomatoes with green chili peppers)
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. original Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (dry)
2 1/2 cups water or more, to make soup broth
Brown ground beef and onions in a large pan with olive oil, if needed; drain off fat. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for an hour or so.
Creamy Mushroom Bacon Soup
10 bacon strips, diced
1 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart milk or half-and-half
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. cold water
In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings. In the drippings, saute mushrooms and onion
until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in milk and broth. Gradually stir in cheese until melted. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, salt, pepper and water until smooth. Stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Garnish with bacon.