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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Southwestern Cheese Soup

This weekend, I finally got around to making stock.  I had a couple of stock buckets in the freezer filled with chicken and beef bones, plus onion stalks from the summer.  I combined that with some garlic and a big sprig of fresh sage and cooked it down to ten quarts of stock.

But 10 quarts of stock was too much for my pressure canner (which holds 7 quart jars), so I had three quarts of stock left in the fridge.  We will be eating soup all week, and my first batch is a riff on my traditional cheese soup.  It combines a creamy base with leftover garden veggies, and it is pretty yummy.  Mr. FC&G is requesting another batch, so I may yet use up all that stock!

Southwestern Cheese Soup

1 to 1.5 quarts stock (I used the larger amount, but it would work fine with the lesser amount if you are buying stock.)
1 can evaporated milk
12 oz. mild cheddar cheese
1 pint canned corn
1 cup (more or less) diced tomatoes
2 small peppers, diced (I used small, golf-ball-sized, mild chiles.  You can bump up the heat with jalapenos if you like.)
1 diced onion (optional) or equivalent of diced leeks
1 t. thyme
1 T. dill
pre-cooked pasta (optional)

Combine stock, corn, onion, and peppers in a large pot and cook on medium until onions are tender.  (I omitted the onion because my stock is onion-y already.)  Add dried herbs.

Reduce heat and add evaporated milk and cheese.  Cook until cheese is melted.  Add diced tomatoes and cook until warm.

If you wish, add some warm, pre-cooked pasta to your bowl before filling it with soup.  This is a great substitute for crackers, and it will use up leftover pasta.

The Analysis

Fast:  This soup will come together in about 30 munites

Cheap:  For me, the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and dried herbs all came from the garden.  The stock, obviously, was made from trimmings that would have gone to waste anyway.  Therefore, all I paid for was the evaporated milk and the cheese (and the pasta add-in), which means the whole batch was under $5 and makes about 6-8 servings.

Good:  Mr. FC&G has requested more, so I'll take that as a vote of confidence.

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