Spring has been long in arriving; I believe this year the groundhog was wrong as spring was not early!
The cold of spring has a different feel than the cold of winter. I have often been told it is the dampness, which it could be, but the bottom line is that if you are outside the cold gets to your bones. I know many of us are already grilling, but the cold temperatures tell me it is still a good time to make soup. If you are a reader of this column you likely have lots of cookbooks and ideas of ways to make soup. There are also the infinte resources of the Internet.
I am usually more of a beef or chicken vegetable soup maker, but I know many of you like creamed soup. A basic cream soup will work with a variety of vegetables. So you can use this basic creamy base to make soup from whatever vegetable is in season or what you have in the refrigerator or freezer. You can use your favorite vegetable or a combination.
After cooking your cream base, add the vegetables of your choice. I prefer to cook them separately and then add them hot to the creamed soup mixture. I recommend cooking these vegetables in the microwave, as this is about the only way I cook vegetables, but the stove top would also work. The important factor is that you don’t overcook them.
For vegetables, you may consider 1 pound of asparagus or broccoli, 8 to 10 carrots, 2 cups of frozen or canned corn, a medium head of cauliflower, 1 pound of mushrooms and 2 bunches of spinach. Once you have added the cooked vegetables of your choice, heat just until the vegetables and creamed mix is blended. For a richer soup and creamier flavor you may add 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice.
Serve the soup with the garnish of your choice with a nice piece of whole grain bread and a salad of dark greens like spring mix. If there is soup left over, refrigerator and then reheat slowly on the stove or in the microwave.
This recipe could be a great start to your carrot soup submission for the Elkhart County 4-H Fair contest ‘Anything Goes with Carrots.’ Complete contest details are available in the 2016 Open Class Home and Family Arts Department Book. Download the book by visiting the Purdue Extension Elkhart County website at http://www.extension.purdue.edu/elkhart.
SOUP CREAM BASE
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 medium onion, thinly chopped (or a bunch of green onions)
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped (optional)
- 1 bouillon cube, crumbled (optional) or 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons powdered milk (optional for extra thickening)
- 1 quart room-temperature milk
- In a container, pour 1 quart of milk so it warms to room temperature.
- In a large pot, melt the butter, then add your onion and sautée until tender (onions should turn translucent). You may also optionally add celery and sautée it as well. If the center of the celery with the leaves is still there make sure to finely chop them and add to the pot.
- Add optional seasonings bouillon cube, soup base or Worcestershire sauce.
- In the pot with the base, add flour and optional powdered milk. Stir and cook until it boils.
- Gradually add the milk, stirring occasionally on low to medium heat until the soup thickens. The soup will taste richer if you use whole milk, but any milk will suffice. Heating on low to medium prevents the milk from scorching and avoids boiling, which causes the mix to separate.