January — it just seems to plod along. Am I the only one who struggles to “get through” January? The dreary days tend to peel away my inner sunshine, and my soul longs for snippets and rays of sunshine. This January is no different, and even a getaway to Florida for a long weekend didn’t cure my January blues.
Enough already! No more of this weary, dreary pity party. Each day needs to be treasured for what it is. These days are all gifts. I’m alive, healthy and there are so many things to be thankful for. I poured a glass of wine, lit a candle and sat down to list all the goodness in each day, no matter what month the calendar says it is.
One of the biggest joys of wintertime cooking is soup. It definitely feeds the soul and becomes a way of life during January and February. Soup is so much more than just soup. Who doesn’t immediately start a pot of old-fashioned chicken noodle soup when a friend calls to say they are under the weather?
Childhood memories resurface when we taste soups that our mothers served. In the winter, my mom almost always had vegetable beef soup on the stove simmering away on Saturday mornings. To this day I can stop by to see her, and at the young age of 86 she is still simmering soups on her stove.
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The beauty of soup is that there is always enough to be shared. Mom makes soup, packages it and delivers it to her friends in her condo complex, and she is always quick to send soup home for our family to enjoy. Everyone is a winner! Soup brings happiness and comfort to each of us. My winter repertoire of soup recipes is as long as the month is to me.
This soup recipe is just a bit different than others on my go-to list. It goes together fast enough and incorporates the “retro” foods from our past. The pay-off? Great flavor, ease of prep and a satisfying dinner on a cold winter’s night.
You’ve heard it before: If you can boil water, you can prepare a delicious soup. Celebrate the fact that spring will be here in a flash, and these dreary days will definitely be a sign of the past.
My dear friend Karen Adler served Celebration Soup at a fireside dinner in her home. It was a great change of pace, and it was delicious. This was several years ago, but the memory has lasted forever. This recipe comes from a wonderful book she wrote, “A Kansas City Christmas, Traditions and Recipes From the Heartland” (Two Lane Press, 1994). She inspired my version of Creamy Vegetable Soup. I hope it becomes your family favorite, too.
Creamy Vegetable Soup
Makes 6 servings
3 tablespoons butter
3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, diced
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) low sodium chicken broth
2 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) cream of potato soup
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
2 jars (5 ounces each) Old English Cheese Sauce
Chopped green onions, for garnish
Heat butter in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, onions and zucchini. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except chopped green onions for garnish, and stir until cheese melts and soup simmers. Sprinkle with chopped green onions before serving.
Roxanne Wyss is one of two cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. Her most recent cookbook is Delicious Dump Cakes. Other recent books include Slow Cooker Desserts, Oh So Easy, Oh So Delicious and The Newlywed Cookbook: Cooking Happily Ever After. She develops the recipes for the “Eating for Life” column for The Kansas City Star and is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She blogs at pluggedintocooking.com.