Soup season is about dry up. If you’re thinking about soup, you better get on it because soup season is fading fast.
Honestly, I’m not all that sad of the passing of soup season. I like soup. I like it a lot. But I like sunshine and warm breezes and summer berries and fresh tomatoes and sweet corn a just a little bit more.
That’s what makes this time of the year so hard. It’s not quite winter and it’s not quiet summer. Some may call it “Spring.” I’m curious about this phenomenon known as spring. In the Midwest, I’m not sure we really experience spring.
There’s an obvious summer. If 90 degrees and 100% humidity doesn’t scream summer, I’m not sure what does.
There’s fall – full of pumpkins, sweatshirts and football. Summer is great for many reasons but those beautiful days in September and October are probably the best of the year, right? Yes. I agree.
There’s winter. Please. One word: Blizzards. One more: 35 below. Wait, that’s two. See also: Here.
And then there’s Not Quite Winter Anymore but Still Pretty Cold, Grey and Windy with One More Wallop of Snow after You Thought it was Over and Already Put Your Snow Blower Away. Also known as: Spring.
Witness Exhibit A: The view from our back door on a March day.
Notice the abundance of sunshine and the absence of five foot drifts of snow. Look, there’s the deck! I knew we had one of those! And the grass! It’s still there! We made it! We’re through!
Oh, Spring – such an evil, cruel tease. 3 days later we woke up to more snow. So, I guess we’re not completely out of soup season yet. If there’s still snow on the ground in your neighborhood, may I recommend a big, warm, comforting bowl of Cheesy Potato Soup. Guaranteed to improve your mood and warm your soul. I actually made this soup quite a few weeks ago (could it have been January still?? Whenever it was, we were still knee deep in soup season, that’s for sure!) but I was thinking about it again this week with our First Day of Spring Snow.
This recipe hails from another one of my awesome Christmas cookbook gifts – The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen! It is all kinds of fun and awesome. It’s full of down-home, comforting recipes and kitschy country crafts. I just love it. It’s too cute for words.
What intrigued me about this recipe was the fact that soup portion and the creamy cheese sauce portion of the recipe are made separately, then mixed together, heated through and served. This is a different method than I’ve seen in the past and one I like. I avoid whole milk and heavy cream in cooking (baking/desserts…that’s a different story) and will almost always try to finagle a way to use low-fat milk instead (1% usually). I have found in the past that it works well in most applications. The one place it doesn’t work so well is if the milk mixture is cooked too long. Something happens to it – it breaks down, separates, curdles, SOMETHING. It changes the texture and makes it…not good. This is what happened the last time I made soup with a low-fat milk base. General Fail.
With this method though, I was able to make the cheese sauce on the side, cooking the low fat milk until just thickened. Then I added my cheese to melt and stirred the whole thing into my pot of soup. Total time on the heat for the milk – about 10 minutes. It came out PERFECT. Creamy, cheesy and so delicious. I had some broccoli lying around that needed to be used up so I tossed that in there at the very end of the simmering time for the soup. No need to add that if you don’t have it or don’t prefer it. I also cooked up some bacon to crumble on top of each bowl. Again, just my preference. I like bacon.
CHEESY POTATO SOUP (Recipe Adapted from: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen by Teri Edwards & Serena Thompson)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 4 cups chicken broth (1 32oz. carton)
- 5 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes (about 4 medium, 1/2-inch cube)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup chopped broccoli florets (I added because I had some to lose up, feel free to add more, less or none at all!)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk (lowfat or whole)
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
- 6 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled (1 slice per bowl, optional)
Make the soup: Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the carrots and cook until softened-about 4 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, basil, salt,, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes (or until potatoes are tender). If using broccoli, add about 5 minutes prior to the end of the simmering time.
Make the cheese sauce: Melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and simmer until slightly thickened – about 2 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted and thoroughly combined. Gradually pour the sauce into the soup and stir until blended and heat through. Garnish each bowl with a crumbled bacon. Makes 6 generous servings.