Food & Nutrition Column
Mary Ann Lienhart Cross
Extension Educator - Health & Human Sciences
Purdue Extension Elkhart County
Easy Cream of Anything Vegetable Soup
As you know it is a very different winter this year. The cold and damp weather still means soup time for me. As I write this, it is raining and I still want soup. I think from conversations I have had with many of you at food programs, soup making is not happening at home as we are not making time to cook and there are many soups we can just buy in the freezer section or in cans at the grocery store. Making homemade soup is easier than ever with all of the appliances we have as well as all of the prepared foods in the produce and freezer section of the grocery store.
The real plus of making your own soup is that you control the amount of sodium and fat content. Most of the time these two ingredients are excessive in commercial soup as well as soup you buy at restaurants. Soup making means planning ahead so you have most of the ingredients or can be creative and substitute.
I usually am 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. You can use this basic creamy base to make soup from whatever vegetable is in season or you have in the refrigerator or freezer. You can also use your favorite vegetable or a combination.
When you begin this recipe, sit out a quart of milk so it warms to room temperature. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a large pot, then add 1 medium onion that is finely chopped or a bunch of green onions. Sauté until tender. If you have some celery in the refrigerator you can also chop and sauté it. If the center of the celery with the leaves is still there, make sure to finely chop them and add to the pot. For some seasoning, you might want to add one crumbled reduced sodium bouillon cube, some reduced sodium soup base, or one tablespoon of Worcestershire or hot sauce.
To thicken, add 2-4 tablespoons of flour. Two tablespoons of powdered milk works too. If you don’t have flour or powdered milk, you can still make the soup. They just make it a little thicker. Stir in the flour or dry milk and cook until bubbly.
Next, it is time for the milk you sat out earlier. The soup will be rich tasting if you use whole milk. Gradually add the quart of room temperature milk, stirring occasionally until the soup thickens. Make sure to have your stove on a low to medium setting so you don’t scorch it. You don’t want to boil it as it will separate.
Now for the vegetables! I prefer to cook them separately then just add them hot to the creamed soup mixture. Some vegetable choices could be asparagus, broccoli, carrots, corn, cauliflower, lettuce, mushrooms or spinach. I cook my vegetables in the microwave as this is about the only way I cook vegetables, but the stovetop would also work. What is most important is that you don’t overcook them.
Some measurements you may consider is 1 pound of asparagus or broccoli, 8-10 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 until the vegetables and creamed mixture is blended. For a richer soup and creamier flavor, you can add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese of your choice. Serve the soup with a garnish of your choice, a piece of whole grain bread and a salad of dark greens like spring mix. If there is soup left over, refrigerate and reheat slowly on the stove or in the microwave later. ###
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