A Warm Hug in a Bowl
Give the gift of homemade soup
Winter in Montana is an ideal time to give our families — and ourselves — the warm hug that homemade soup can bring.
Saturday night dinners in winter in the Erickson household are soup nights — usually homemade. With just two of us, a pot of soup creates leftovers that get an encore later in the week, or that are frozen for another Saturday night dinner later in the month.
Thanks to one of my mother’s sisters, my Aunt Anne, I have a plethora of amazing soup recipes that are not repeated during the season, even in those years when winter’s grip is unrelenting.
Anne lived outside of Chicago and would visit the most amazing restaurants and cafes in Chicago and in her hometown of Joliet and would come home with recipes that she would share with my mother and me, pots of warmth and flavor that can brighten a cold winter’s night.
Homemade soup. Cold winter nights. A warm hug from my aunt, who is gone but never forgotten.
ANNE’S POTATO SOUP
2 lbs. red potatoes (about 4 medium)
6 T. unsalted butter
1 c. diced celery
¼ c. diced parsnip
1 c. diced yellow onion
1 c. diced carrots
2 T. flour
1 qt. chicken stock
¼ t. marjoram
½ t. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ c. chopped fresh mushrooms (optional)
Cook unpeeled potatoes 6 to 8 minutes in enough boiling water that just covers the potatoes. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice into ½-inch chunks. Melt butter in a heavy 4-quart saucepan or soup kettle over medium heat.
Add potatoes, celery, parsnips, onion and carrots. Cook vegetables uncovered in the butter, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle flour evenly over the vegetables then stir until well coated.
Add stock, marjoram, salt and a few grinds of black pepper and the mushrooms. Bring soup to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to very low and partially cover the pot. Simmer 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Taste for seasoning.
ANNE’S CANADIAN CHEESE SOUP
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. hot water
2 carrots, finely diced
2 celery ribs, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2¼ c. milk
½ c. flour
½ c. unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 T. Worcestershire
Salt and pepper to taste
3½-4 c. cheddar cheese cubed (my aunt would sometimes use Velveeta)
3½-4 c. Colby Longhorn cheese, cubed
Combine the first five ingredient in a 2½-quart saucepan. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. (The vegies are diced and small enough that they are tender in the final product. Sometimes, I will use an immersion blender at this stage to make the final product a little smoother.)
Meanwhile, in a large skillet-type saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour to make a roux and cook for about 5 minutes to eliminate the flour taste. Whisk in the milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
Add the sauce to the vegetable mixture and stir constantly until boiling. Add the cubed cheeses and reduce the heat, stirring until the cheeses melt.
ANNE’S CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP
4 T. unsalted butter
1 T. chopped onion
1-3/4 c. finely chopped fresh button mushrooms (approx. ½ lb)
1 quart chicken broth
2 T. flour
½ t. kosher salt
1 c. half & half
6 T. unsweetened whipped cream
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. Add onion and mushrooms. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add chicken broth. Cover tightly and simmer for 15 minutes.
In a smaller skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in flour and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook for 2 minutes until bubbly. Blend into the mushroom mixture. Add half & half and whisk until blended.
Heat to boiling, whisking constantly.
Serve, topped with whipped cream (which does add calories, so it can be left out).