Before I start in on soups, I thought I'd revisit my sausage experiment for a moment. My husband tasted the sausage last night. He thought the meat was fine, but thought the seasonings could use some tweaking. I think I might be getting sick, because even opening the bowl makes my stomach turn and dinner last night tasted icky-even though the kids all had seconds. I'm going to wait and get back to the sausage when I'm over my "bug."
OK, on to soups. For years upon years, I considered myself a healthy cook, making some things from scratch while taking advantage of the conveniences that the grocery store offered-Pillsbury cresenct rolls and Campbell's condensed soup being my favorites. I would throw together a casserole of ground beef, pasta, cream of mushroom soup, and Velveeta. Then I would make green beans (from a can) and crescent rolls for sides. Really that's a fine meal, but once I began paying attention to what the ingredients were in the meals I was making, I wanted to change. I got rid of the Velveeta, switched to whole grain noodles and fresh or frozen veggies. I even started to make my own dinner rolls, but I still hung on to that can of cream soup.
Last summer though I found a recipe for Cream of Something soup on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen site. Essentially the recipe is a roux with a few added ingredients. A roux (pronounced "roo") is flour combined with a fat-usually butter. To make a cream soup, I melt butter in a saucepan, whisk in flour and cook it until it starts to turn a nutty-brown. Then I add a little salt and a liquid (either milk or broth). Whisk it until thickened. If I want cream of mushroom, then I would sautee sliced or chopped mushrooms in the butter before adding the flour. The same goes with celery, onion, etc. I can turn it into a cheese soup by adding shredded cheese after the soup has thickened. I could turn it into a gravy by exchanging the milk for chicken or beef broth. I've done a really great mushroom gravy that used chicken broth and then poured it over thick sliced pork tenderloin in the crock pot. 7-8 hours on low and the pork was fork tender and the gravy was rich. I usually serve it with mashed potatoes and a green veggie on the side.
A couple days ago we had baked potato bar for dinner. I fried up a few pieces of bacon and crumbled them, strained some homemade yogurt to use for sour cream, and made an awesome broccoli cheese sauce to go over the potatoes.
Broccoli Cheese Sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. whole white wheat flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1 cup or more chopped, cooked broccoli
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Let cook a few minutes until the mixture turns a golden brown. Add milk and salt and continue whisking until mixture thickens. Add broccoli and mix. Serve when heated through.
I served this over a baked potato, but it would also work well over rice or noodles. You could change it up by using parmesan or another sharp tasting cheese, or using broth instead of milk.