Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Creamy and delicious

I had plans for dinner a week ago Monday.

I told daughter Anna I’d make one of her favorite recipes, a yeasty, one-dish pizza dish she adores. Anna woke up with a sore throat that morning, so while she was at school that day I decided to change our dinner plans and searched the Internet, looking for soup recipes that would soothe her red throat.

When she called after school, she told me all she wanted was something warm for dinner, something that would feel good to her throat. I was happy I could oblige.

I settled on a creamy vegetable soup for this very cold evening. Anna doesn’t really like meat, so I thought this dish would be perfect for her. There are many versions on the websites I visited, including a copycat recipe for a creamy soup we had at Dixie Stampede in Myrtle Beach. They also sounded similar.

I decided to combine my favorite parts of several recipes and came up with my own version that uses onions, celery, carrots and a sweet potato, which I added for a little sweetness and more nutrition.

Many of the recipes don’t suggest blending the vegetables, but I decided to pull out my immersion blender and make the soup creamy — leaving only a few small pieces of vegetables in the soup for a little change in texture. But if you’d rather have the vegetable pieces, I’m sure that would be good, too.

For the cheese in this soup, I used a blend of shredded Velveeta and Cheddar because I had a partial bag in my refrigerator. But I’m sure either Velveeta or Cheddar alone would work well.

Many of the recipes I looked at listed whole milk or 2 percent milk and some even called for half-and-half. But I used skim milk, and was very pleased with the results.

The mix of the four vegetables I chose was delicious and flavorful, but you could certainly add others. I saw a number of recipes that use a bag of frozen California blend vegetables for cream soup. I plan to make this again soon, adding broccoli to my ingredient list.

No matter which vegetables and which kind of cheese you use, this creamy soup recipe is a wonderful way to warm up your family on a cold winter day and to sneak in plenty of vegetables in the process!

Creamy vegetable soup
  • 32 ounces chicken broth (I use Swanson’s Natural Goodness, lower sodium, fat-free)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped sweet potato (peeled)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Dash salt
  • 4 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 1 cup shredded Velveeta/ Cheddar blend or other favorite cheese
In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add carrot, celery, onion and sweet potato; simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

While the vegetables are cooking, in a large saucepan melt butter. With a whisk, stir in the flour and salt until blended and gradually add milk. Bring milk mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly; continue stirring, being careful not to let the mixture stick. Pour in vegetables and broth and stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.

Use an immersion blender to blend the soup to the desired consistency. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken broth.

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