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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup

I've been sick since Friday, but yesterday the sun came out and healed me a bit. It was funny, because I woke up early, coughing my head off, and tried to make a doctor appointment. No one at the medical center answered. I found out later we were under a level 3 weather emergency, so that explained it. At noon we went down to a level 2, so I headed out to run some errands, no longer feeling like I needed the doctor. I wanted those little clementine oranges, so I popped into the grocery and then had a craving for mushroom soup. Mushrooms are immunity building and healing you know, so I assume it was an intuitive eating thing.

When I was single and lived alone, I taught myself to cook some things by using recipes I found on the back of cans. These are usually simple and naturally include the item in the can. I was checking the soup label to make sure there weren't any really bad ingredients (as a vegetarian, I have to be on the lookout especially for lard). I was thrilled to notice a recipe for broccoli cheese soup also on the label. It was just like old times! I'm going to start doing this more often. Typically we buy organic, frozen broccoli at Meijer, but they were out the last time my husband went shopping, so I bought conventional. As usual, I altered the recipe a bit, so I'll just tell you how I made it, and you can tweak it however you wish.

Shopping list:  1 package 12 to 16 oz. frozen broccoli; one 26 oz. can cream of mushroom condensed soup; your choice cheese; canola or vegetable oil; milk or half & half; Better Than Bouillon or chicken broth; onion; garlic.
(Exact amounts of ingredients will vary according to the size soup you are making and according to taste.)

1.  Put a little organic canola oil in the bottom of a saucepan. Add one chopped white onion (I used a small one). If you have garlic cloves, chop them and throw them in. I didn't, so I sprinkled in some  garlic powder. I ground organic black peppercorns and added some organic thyme (good for respiratory illness!). Saute until onions are soft (about 3 to 5 minutes).

2.  Add bag of frozen broccoli and saute 2 minutes. Stir in one can cream of mushroom soup (this was Essential Everyday brand). The recipe called for 1 pound of processed cheese spread, cubed. I'm not sure what this is--maybe Velveeta? I grated raw, organic sharp cheddar cheese and added that instead, but nowhere near a pound. I didn't measure it. The recipe called for 2 cups of half & half, but I used organic 1% milk. And instead of 1 cup chicken broth, I used 2 teaspoons vegetarian Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base.

3.  Simmer 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and soup is heated through. Serve with croutons if desired. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!!

The raw cheese was quite strong, and I was afraid Beezy and her cousin who was visiting wouldn't like it, so I threw some organic oven fries in to bake. As it turned out, they both liked the soup, but Beezy didn't finish hers because it was a little too strong. Her cousin thought it was really good, and my husband, who loves strong cheese, thought it was amazing. I was especially pleased thinking that the French would approve, what with their affection for creamy dishes, and good cheese, of course!
For dessert we had frozen organic berries, slightly thawed.

I like the French idea of making sure you have at least 3 courses for dinner. It makes trying something different less risky, especially when you have kids. If the girls hadn't been fond of the soup, they could have just eaten a small portion and would for sure have liked the fries and fruit. So give the soup a try and tell me what you think, or share a comfort soup of your own for cold winter days.