Comprised from The Prepared Pantry Magazine “Country Home Kitchen, Issue 1, Vol. 1” To sign up for a free subscription to the magazine click here>>
What a magnificent early spring day it was! Last week’s warm weather melted the snow and the sun dried out the roads, but this morning there was a thin layer of new snow and soft flakes sifting through the air. By noon, the clouds had broken and the sun was shining through swaths of deep blue. The sky tumbled with tall white clouds, except against the mountains in the east where heavy gray clouds hung low. The clouds retreated throughout the day and in the afternoon the foothills were bright, bathed in sun on new snow.
The day was inspiring and in late afternoon, Casey went out to take pictures.
It felt like a soup day. We made soups for most of the day in the test kitchen-thick, creamy soups-including chicken and wild rice, bacon and cheese, and cauliflower cheddar.
This is meat and potatoes country; Idaho in particular and the Intermountain West in general. Beef, potatoes and gravy are king. When Merri Ann, my wife, makes Sunday dinner, more often than not it’s a roast, potatoes, and gravy. That’s pretty standard.
“I was in Montana,” said one of our food suppliers in Seattle, “and you people eat differently than we do.” There are regional differences everywhere.
We have lots of leftover gravy. When I’m making dinner, that gravy is likely to turn into soup. It’s easy to add veggies, a starch-rice, beans, or potatoes-and meat to the gravy, thin it to the right consistency and make soup. Sometimes, I don’t even need the meat.
On busy weeknights, I often make a quick dinner with a steak, chop, or burger. I put on veggies and either cook a potato in the microwave or open a pouch of dried mashed potatoes (they’re really pretty good). I make gravy from a mix, by adding water and bringing it to a boil. I keep three kinds of gravy mixes in the cupboard-chicken, turkey, and beef. I can have meals on the table in well under 30 minutes.
But I started connecting the dots. I like hearty soups, but I often don’t have leftover gravy. Why not use gravy mixes and make soups really quickly?
I took the concept to the test kitchen that stormy spring day and went to work. We made very good, hearty soups with gravy from a pouch-the three soups mentioned before. We served them in the store and folks loved them. Of course, you don’t have to use gravy from a mix to make these soups; you can use a scratch recipe to make a creamy soup base or your own leftover gravy.
If you don’t want to use gravy: Use this recipe for a cream soup base. Then use the base as a substitute for gravy in these recipes. See how to make a cream soup base>>
Cauliflower Cheese Soup
This is the first soup that we made. It is a recipe we got from the gravy manufacturer. In the course of making it, we made a few minor changes.
I expected a cream of cauliflower soup with the cauliflower pureed but the recipe called for leaving the cauliflower in chunks. I liked it that way. We could have chosen to run the soup through the blender.
As with most soups, you thin the soup to a desired consistency with stock, water, or milk. We chose to use milk.
Notice that there is no salt in these recipes; the gravy contributes the salt.
Kelli Tracy, in our test kitchen, made these soups. She liked it very thick; I liked it thinner. I was out-voted. Three-fourths cup of milk makes a very thick soup.
1 quart water
2 cups cauliflower, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1.In a large pot, prepare one cup of the Roasted Chicken Skillet Gravy according to package directions, using the 1 quart of water.
2.Saut the cauliflower in butter until tender. Do not brown.
3.Add the cauliflower and milk to gravy, stirring well.
4.Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes
5.Add the thyme and cheese, stirring well until the cheese melts. Do not boil.
6.Thin the soup with more milk if desired. Check the seasoning and more salt or spice to taste.
7.Serve while hot. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.
Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
Of these three recipes, the chicken and wild rice was my favorite though many people in the store said that the cauliflower was their favorite. You can buy fancy wild rice at a great price in our store.
Being basically lazy, I bought sliced mushrooms and matchstick carrots at the store.
1 quart water
1/2 cup wild rice
1/2 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup chicken, cooked and cubed
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth, optional
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1.Cook the rice according to package directions.
2.While the rice is cooking, in a large pot, prepare one cup of the Roasted Chicken Skillet Gravy according to package directions, using the one quart of water.
3.Melt the butter in a large pot.
Saut the onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in butter over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
4.Add in the gravy, vegetables, rice, chicken, and wine, stirring well.
5.Salt and pepper to taste.
6.Simmer for 10 to 50 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
7.Thin with additional water or stock if needed.
8.Add the thyme in the last 5 minutes.
Bacon and Potato Soup
1 quart water
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 pound bacon, cooked to a crisp and crumbled
1 3/4 cups cubed red skinned potatoes
2 cups water or low-sodium stock
1.Boil the dice red skinned potatoes, drain, and set aside.
2.Saut the onions.
3.In a large pot, prepared one cup of the Roasted Chicken Skillet Gravy according to package directions, using the 1 quart of water.
4.Add the onions, cheese, bacon, potatoes and water or stock into the pot. Stir until blended.
5.Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
6.Serve while hot. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.
Related Cream Soup Recipes
- Cream of Broccoli Soup ;
- Cream of Mushroom Soup ;
- Cream of Potato Soup ;
- Cream of Celery Soup ;
- Cream of Corn Soup ;
- Cheesy Potato Soup ;
Top of FormDennis Weaver has burnt food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking, available free in an e-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon for $10.
He loves to help people bake and is giving away Free Digital Cookbooks and Magazines. There is no cost or obligation. To sign up for these giveaways, click here.
Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children.
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