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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hearty Soup for a Crowd

We are enjoying a very old-fashioned winter, with lots of snow and frequent temperature dips below zero--perfect soup weather. The recipe that follows makes a really large pot of soup, but it is perfect for having a few friends over, it refrigerates well (probably not the best for freezing), and you will be amazed at how many people will be coming back for seconds and thirds.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

canola oil
2 to 3 c chopped onion (1 to 2 large onions)
2 c diced celery
3 medium carrots, diced--about 2 cups
6 large potatoes, scrubbed and diced but not peeled
1 1/2 c sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 medium)
4 chicken bouillon cubes OR 1 to 2 c chicken stock
1 T mixed dried herbs--rosemary, thyme, basil, and marjoram in about equal quantities
1 t basil, in addition to the basil in the mixed herbs
1 to 2 t garlic powder
seasoning salt and black pepper to taste
1 1/2 quarts milk OR 1 to 2 c dry milk powder
1/2 c American cheese, diced
1/2 c flour
water
1 to 2 lb frozen broccoli

Put a small amount of canola oil in a large (at least 10 inch) skillet. Add the onion, celery and carrots and saute over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the potatoes, sweet potatoes and bouillon cubes or stock with about 2 cups of water in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Cover and cook over medium heat. When the onion mixture is done, stir it into the potatoes along with the seasonings and continue to simmer until the potatoes are very soft. Mash the potatoes lightly.

Combine the flour with about a cup or so of cold water and stir to make a paste. Gradually blend into the potatoes and stir until the soup is slightly thickened and bubbly. Add the cheese and milk along with enough water to make about a gallon or so of soup--to the consistency that you prefer. Continue to simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes. About 20 to 30 minutes before serving, stir in the partially thawed broccoli and heat until the soup returns to a slow simmer.

Serve in large soup mugs with grated cheddar or colby cheese and freshly ground pepper. Serves 8 to 12, depending on their appetites.

Other add-ins or variations:

Cheesy Broccoli soup
Stir 1 to 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese into the soup after the broccoli is added and heat just long enough for the cheese to melt, stirring continuously.

Instead of, or in addition to the broccoli, stir in frozen peas, green beans, corn, mixed vegetables, etc. This can be a good way to use up leftover vegetables as well.

Diced leftover ham or turkey can be added near the end of the cooking time.

On the other hand, you can make this strictly vegetarian by using vegetable stock or vegetarian bouillon in place of the chicken broth/bouillon.

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