The air has definitely turned chilly, and we’ve already had snow. Time for soup. And if you happen to be looking for a white main dish to celebrate a snowfall (any one else ever do that?), this is a good candidate. It also happens to be one of my family’s favorites, and besides often getting picked for birthday dinners, we traditionally make a big pot and leave it on the stove on New Year’s Eve so there’s something warm (and not sweet) to enjoy during the party.
I got this recipe, or its progenitor, from my mother-in-law, but I’ve changed it just a tad. Or rather I’ve kept the spirit of the original. Mostly.
Sorry again to recipe sticklers, there’s lots of room for variation in this one. I’ll throw in some numbers, but they’re pretty random. I took this picture of the ingredients I used on my latest batch, and I just barely fit it all in the pot. We like leftovers. This amount feeds company and makes a few lunches as well. Feel free to use less, and it doesn’t need to be in equal proportions. Like I always use a whole onion even if I use less of the rest.
a couple Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion (and any leftover onion you have in the fridge)
1 mound potatoes (I promised numbers)
1/2 cauliflower or so
1 or 2 yellow summer squash (or peeled zucchini)
grated cheese of your preference (I like Colby/Jack)
salt and pepper to taste
crumbled bacon and more cheese for topping
Warm the olive oil in your big soup pot and start chopping up vegetables and throwing them in. They can be in big chunks, especially at first because they will cook longest. I like to do onion first and then get some potatoes in and turn the heat up enough to start frying them in the oil to give the soup a touch of french fries and onion rings flavor. (You can even call it “French Fry Soup” if that helps your family like it.)
Continue to add vegetables and stir so as to brown but not burn vegetables. It will get a bit difficult to stir as the pot gets full. If you ever feel like you can’t keep it from burning, you can throw water in and be done with the saute phase.
Cover vegetables with water and allow to simmer until vegetables are cooked through. Umm, maybe 30 mins or more?
Blend vegetables with an immersion blender if you’re lucky enough to have one, otherwise I think you have to do the batches through the blender routine. If you like a few potato chunks, set as much as you want aside while blending the rest, then chop them and put them back in the soup.
Stir in a cup or so of grated cheese and add salt (1 Tbs?) and pepper (I do a few grinds).
If you prefer a bit of decadence, instead of the olive oil you can use a cube of butter (it does taste good), or leave out the cauliflower or squash (or just use less, really you don’t taste them anyway), and heck, while you’re at in, throw in some sour cream.
My favorite is a spoonful of bacon on top. I get it precooked and crumbled in a bag at Sam’s Club. Seems much less fatty than if I did it myself and perhaps cheaper (certainly tons more convenient). My kids like to spoon on more cheese. Or both.