Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Creamy California Blend Veggie Soup

If you're unfamiliar with the term "California Blend" when referring to veggies, it's broccoli, cauliflower and carrots (the carrots are usually in a crinkle cut). Thought I should explain that first before I get into this amazingly filling and rich soup.

The base recipe can be used for any kind of creamy soup really, so if you don't have California Blend veggies on hand, you can basically throw any of your favorite frozen or fresh veggies in and come out okay.

 First a peek at what it looks like when all is said and done (please forgive me, I am terribly deficient as a photographer).

This can be made in a crockport or a regular stockpot. The one thing I've learned is when using fresh veggies, you will need to cook it longer, so the crockpot is a bit more handy. With frozen veggies, it's fast enough to just use a regular stockpot. With the way my stove is I tend to use my 5 quart non-stick pan. Fair warning: this soup requires a LOT more stirring than my other soups to keep things from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Here's the cool warning: you can pre-make and fresh the creamy base for a quick "fill-the-crockpot-as-I'm-running-out-the-door-late-to-work-again" meal.

Okay, all warnings out of the way, then here's your grocery list.

Groceries Needed

  • 1 stick of butter  (1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion  (usually 1/2 of a small yellow onion does the trick)
  • 2 cups diced celery  (take note of this 2-to-1 ratio when increasing this recipe)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup milk  (I actually used skim milk and it was still very rich)
  • 3/4 cup half-n-half or similar cream
  • 1 package frozen California Blend veggie mix (16 oz. or 24 oz.)
  • 1 garlic clove OR 1 tsp. dried minced garlic

  • 1 head fresh broccoli
  • 1 head fresh cauliflower
  • 1 bunch carrots or 12 oz. bag of crinkle cut carrots
(Some creamy soup recipes add sugar, I found the carrots add enough sweet to this.}

Stockpot Instructions

A 5 quart pan of any type will work, although for easiest cleanup, a non-stick pot is recommended.

Here's how I made this soup:

  1. Remove frozen veggies from the freezer to thaw a bit. If using fresh veggies, see the note below.
  2. Wash and chop a head of celery. If you end up with more than 2 cups don't sweat it. I really load mine up with loads of celery; I like the way it kicks up the flavor
  3. Peel and chop up 1/2 of the onion. Too much onion or it over powers the soup (experience talking here). 
  4. Put the stick of butter in the pot and turn it on medium heat. The butter will need to be melted before you add the celery and onion in.
  5. While the butter is melting, mince the garlic clove.
  6. Once the butter is melted add in the celery, onion and garlic. Sau the combination until the veggies are tender and the onion is translucent - this usually takes about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the flour, stirring it in well and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add the broth, cream and milk and stir it until it is smooth. Don't forget to stir up from the bottom of the pan so the flour doesn't stick and then burn.
  9. Increase the heat until the broth is simmering. This will vary depending on your stove, for my old electric it was medium-high.
  10. IF you are making just the base soup, stop here, turn off the heat, and move the pot someplace to cool off. Put the soup into storage containers and freeze.
  11. Reduce the heat back to medium.
  12. Add in the vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered.
  13. Serve hot, add salt and pepper to taste.
NOTE: If you are using fresh vegetables, cut them all before starting on the celery and onions. You'll want to cut the florets off of the broccoli and cauliflower, and slice up the carrots so you have round "pucks". If you can crinkle cut your carrots, even better. You'll need at least 1 cup of each cup up veggie, but adjust to fit your tastes. I tend to add more, especially with broccoli.

Crockpot Instructions

There are two ways to start the crockpot version, using some pre-made creamy soup from the freezer or starting fresh on the stove.

Here we go!

  1. If starting with a fresh base, complete Steps 1-8 from the Stockpot version first and then pour into the crockpot.
  2. If starting with a frozen base, place the frozen soup in the crockpot and put on medium until can be stirred.
  3. Once the soup can be stirred, dump in all of the veggies.
  4. Cook on whatever heat works for your timeline. I usually cook it for 8 hours, which is low heat on my crockpot. If I'm in a rush, I'll put it on high for 4 hours. Either time works fine for fresh frozen veggies.
  5. Serve hot and salt and pepper to taste.
 That's it. Way easier than I ever thought it would be. Wish I'd learned this earlier, I would have made a lot more home made soups with less salt and fewer preservatives.


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