Yes, it is April 14 and blizzarding in Eastern Montana. I will stand by what I have said before about loving where we live, but I admit I am ready for spring! As my Dad always says, this kind of weather is what “keeps the riff-raff out.” There is always a silver lining.
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 a large onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
3 Tbsp. butter
3 cups milk
2 cups water
4 Tsp. WildTree Chicken Bouillon Soup Base
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
1-2 cups fresh broccoli florets
6 oz. Velveeta Cheese, cubed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven that has been preheated on medium heat (a couple of turns around the bottom of the pan, probably about 1-2 tsp.). Add the chopped celery, carrots and onion; season with a little salt and pepper, and cook on medium to medium-low just until the onions start to look translucent. Add the flour and the butter and stir until smooth (this will thicken the soup – you just want to cook it until the flour and butter combine and the flour taste is cooked out). Add the water and the Chicken Soup Base and stir. Add about two cups of the milk, saving the rest of the milk for later to get the soup to the consistency you prefer (I like a thinner soup so I added all three cups, but you may want to use more or less). Simmer over low heat, covered (DON’T boil) while you steam the broccoli florets either in the microwave or in a steamer on the stovetop.
Add the steamed broccoli and both cheeses and stir. This is where you will add the rest of the milk if you want the soup to be a bit thinner also. Stir and simmer on low (again, don’t boil, or your dairy will curdle and your soup won’t be nice and smooth) just until the cheeses melt. Season again with salt and pepper to taste; you will need very little if any additional salt because the cheeses are very salty.
At this point, just because it is actually blizzarding today and we are still calving and I therefore have no idea when my husband will actually be in for dinner, I transferred the soup to a crock pot to keep it warm. That way I won’t forget about it on the stovetop and let it get too hot and curdle. I also added another layer of cheddar cheese on the top before I put the cover on the crock pot. I like cheese, what can I say. It give you a nice “crust” of cheese on top almost like a french onion soup. If your kids will eat broccoli or peas smothered in Velveeta, they will eat this, and they will get the other vegetables along with it.
Keep in mind that this recipe is flexible if you live in the country and don’t have some of these things on hand. Use whatever veggies you have, dried chopped onion instead of fresh, half & half, cream or milk, and any type of broth (chicken, beef, broth you made yourself, canned, regular bouillon cubes, etc.). On the Bouillon, just adjust the water if you are not using the powdered or cubed soup base (don’t add two cups water AND two cups liquid broth). You can also get creative with the cheeses and leave out the Velveeta if you don’t like the “processed” cheeses. There are not a lot of cheese choices around here and my kids love Velveeta, so I go with the flow.
I served this with BLT sandwiches on Wheat Montana Big Sky Wheat. It’s not beef, but it is LOCAL pork, which was hand-cut fresh at the local meat counter. Another little tip – cook your bacon on a cookie sheet with high sides lined with tin foil in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (less for thinner bacon). It cooks evenly and the cleanup is effortless – it doesn’t splatter all over your stovetop and you can just pour off the bacon grease and pitch the tin foil in the garbage. Stay warm everyone!