The leaves have begun to change and football season is in full swing, which means fall is here.
As much as I love to cook outdoors on the grill, the cooler temperatures and crisp evenings of fall give me the opportunity to dust off some old recipes that I am just not able to make during the summer.
One of my favorites is soup.
I like making homemade soups for a few reasons, and the biggest is that when I make it, I can control the amount of salt that goes in. But as you read this recipe, you will realize this is not for low-sodium diets.
My favorite soup to make is potato. The recipe that I am going to share this week is a simple potato soup that I have made a number of times, and it's easy but also opens up a number of ways to vary the recipe and make it your own.
First, I do not place an amount of salt, pepper or parsley to add because those are determined by the cook's preference. An important item to remember is that by using bacon drippings, ham base and garnishing with bacon, this soup will be salty, so add more salt with caution.
1 pound of bacon
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 36 ounce container of chicken broth (3 cups)
1 cup milk
1 T. Ham base
Cook the bacon in a skillet until well done. Spoon two teaspoons bacon drippings into a large pot and sautee chopped onion and garlic. Once the onions become opaque, add salt, pepper and stir in flour, creating a roux. Add chicken broth, stirring constantly and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add diced potatoes and cook until they are tender. Add parsley. Spoon into a bowl and add chopped bacon and cheddar cheese.
1 can crescent roll dough
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1 package cream cheese
This happens to be one of my wife's favorite quick appetizers to make any time we are having people over to our house or a family gathering.
It is a simple, fun dish that kids like to help make, and it offers a ton of options as far as design and creativity.
Since we are smack in the middle of football season, we decided to make a football-themed veggie pizza.
The first thing you need is a can of crescent roll dough. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and shape into whatever you desire. My wife has made football goal posts, footballs, and at Christmas time, a really sharp-looking Christmas tree complete with decorations and a star.
Once shaped as you like, bake the dough at the temperature and time the canister suggests.
Next, take a package of cream cheese and add the package of ranch dressing powder and mix. This will be your spread.
When the dough is finished, spread your cream cheese mixture on the top and add fresh vegetables.
For this recipe, we used only broccoli and cauliflower, but adding bell peppers and banana peppers gives it a little more color and adds a great flavor.
Sprinkle cheese on top of that and put in the refrigerator.
To begin, cook up the bacon in a skillet until well done. Personally, I like my bacon burnt before I eat it, and the crispier you cook it, the easier it is to chop or crumble on the soup.
Once finished, spoon a teaspoon or two of the drippings into the soup pot and sautee your chopped onion and garlic cloves in the drippings. It may be necessary to add a little bit of butter to the drippings if the pan seems dry.
Once the onions turn opaque, add the salt and pepper to taste and spoon in a teaspoon of flour at a time, stirring constantly, making a roux. The mixture will become paste-like, and that is good.
Add one 36-ounce container of chicken broth and stir continuously.
You will begin to notice that this is a dinner that you can't just set and walk away. It requires your attention.
Once the roux and broth have combined, bring to a boil.
Once boiling, lower the heat, stir in the milk and add the potatoes.
I suggest using milk, and the thicker and higher percentage you use, the better for the consistency and flavor of the soup. I tend to use 1 or 2 percent, but whole milk is better and a heavy cream is ideal.
Stir the soup occasionally and cook until the potatoes are soft.
I normally will then turn the heat to a simmer and let the soup set for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing it to cook without interference.
One thing that I noticed with this soup the first time I made it is that the flavor is outstanding, but the look of it is not what I expected. Most times, if you order a potato soup at a restaurant, it is white and thick. This soup is not. One thing you can do with this soup is cook up and mash half of your potatoes and add with the milk and diced potatoes. This will make the soup much thicker and give it a whiter color.
Once it is time to serve, garnish the soup with some shredded cheddar cheese and bacon. If you like, add a spoon of sour cream and chopped scallions.