Sunday, February 14, 2016

Let It Snow, I'm Making Soup

I have always been a winter lover. Snow bunny. Ice queen. Call me whatever you like I have always been in love with the winter season. Maybe it's in my DNA, being a Minnesota girl by birth. Every year I looked forward to that first snow, the first time I get to shovel, and hoping and praying for a BIG snowstorm and a snow day. A lot of my friends called me crazy for shoveling snow. I have never even considered owning a snowblower, instead preferring the quiet solitude of time spent outside with the newly fallen snow and my shovel. Not a sound around me, just the crystal white sparkling snow and peace and quiet. Now that I'm older I don't get to shovel like that anymore, and while I still love the beautiful snowfall, the cold weather is a little harder to enjoy.

These days instead of bundling up in a heavy coat, boots, gloves and hat and heading out into the cold, I like snuggling up with a blanket and a warm cat, throwing the curtains wide open and watching the wind whip the flakes of frozen beauty all around. These days it's The Chef who is out there manning the shovel and I concentrate on cooking up some of my favorite winter foods.

Winter foods.....what a wonderful category of recipes. Stews, baked pastas, roasts. I don't know about you, but I tend to think of soup as a winter food. There is something so warming and comforting about a big bowl of chili, or chicken noodle soup, or beef and vegetable soup. Homemade bread baking away while the soup simmers, warming the home and filling the air with amazing scents. It's my favorite time of year. 

Ok, so let's talk about this soup for a minute. It's easy, and I mean kindergarten easy. The hardest skill needed is the ability to crumble up and cook some hamburger. The rest takes care of itself. Probably the most bizarre part of this recipe is in the ingredients- I actually used fake cheese. You know what fake cheese is- it's a weird yellow rubbery loaf of cheese flavored....something, and normally I am a cheese snob extraordinaire, but in this case I needed something that would melt easily and not break down. So the old bechamel and cheddar cheese just wouldn't do it. I also cheated with store bought shredded frozen hash browns and packaged chicken broth. Sometimes, especially work days, a girl just has to cheat, and that's perfectly ok!

Easy Cheeseburger Soup

1 pound hamburger
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
small handfull fresh parsley, chopped
32 oz. carton chicken broth
2 lb chunk Velveeta, cut up
1 bag frozen shredded hash browns
assorted toppings (see below)

Place the hamburger, onion and garlic in a stockpot. Cook until hamburger is cooked through and onions are softened. Drain off fat. Sprinkle the Worcestershire sauce over the meat.

Add the chicken broth, hash browns, and chopped parsley. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and add cheese. Simmer over low heat at least 45 minutes. 

This recipe is great in a crockpot too- just brown the meat, and add everything but the toppings. Cook over low heat about 8 hours.

What to top this creamy yummy soup with? Think cheeseburgers! Crumble some crisply cooked bacon over each serving, or chopped pickles and fresh onions. Oyster crackers are great, croutons even better and so is a chunk of garlic toast. Chopped tomato is great too, or a sprinkle of shredded cheese. A couple shakes of hot sauce kicks up the heat a bit.

Yes.........this soup is definitely going to be a regular in my "winter foods" lineup of dinners. Right after I finish watching him shovel........

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