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Thu, Nov. 21

Like potato cheese soup? This is your lucky day

I considered a calorie-counting theme for this first column of 2013 since most of us probably have both bigger waistlines and lists of goals. Instead, I came up with some good soup recipes for these cold winter days. A popular soup to order at many restaurants is potato cheese so here is a column with several versions - you can pick your favorite. For those starting calorie-counting, I will list that one first! Add some nice bread and a salad and each of these will be a satisfying meal after all that holiday cooking (and indulging)!

POTATO CHEESE SOUP (Less cheese than some recipes lower the calorie count)

2 cups cubed potatoes

2 cups water

1 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup each chopped celery and onion

2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules (or cubes of equal amount)

1/8 tsp. pepper

4 oz. cheese, shredded

Cook potatoes, carrots, celery and onion in water until tender. Add bouillon and pepper. Take half of mixture out and put in blender. Process until smooth. Do the same with remaining mixture. Return to saucepan. Simmer 10-15 minutes, add cheese and simmer just until cheese melts. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or finely chopped green onion.

POTATO CHEESE SOUP (Richer and several more calories)

4 tbsp. sweet butter

2 cups finely chopped onions

2 cups peeled and chopped carrots

2 large potatoes

- about 1 1/2 pounds

- peeled and cubed

(3-4 cups)

6 parsley sprigs

5 cups chicken broth or stock

1/2 cup chopped

fresh dill (or a pinch or two of dried)

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cups good quality, sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter in soup pot. Add onions and carrots and cook covered on low heat until vegetables are tender and lightly colored - about 25 minutes. Add parsley, broth and potatoes. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender- about 30 minutes. Add dill; remove soup from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Pour soup through strainer and transfer solids to blender or processor. Add one-cup broth and blend until smooth. Return pureed soup to pot and add additional broth until soup reaches desired consistency. Makes 3-4 cups.

NEW ENGLAND CHEDDAR CHEESE SOUP

4 servings: 4 1/2 cups

1 1/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

(about 5 oz.)

4 tbsp. all purpose flour, divided

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup finely

chopped celery

1/4 cup finely

chopped green or red bell pepper

2 tbsp. finely chopped onion

1 1/2 cup each milk and chicken broth

3/4 cup chopped

tomatoes (or equal canned, drained)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

On wax paper, toss cheddar cheese with 1 tbsp. flour; set aside. In large saucepan, melt butter, add celery, green pepper and onion; cook and stir until tender about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 3 tbsp. flour. Add milk and chicken broth. Cook and stir until boiling; boil and stir 1 minute longer; reduce heat. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and reserved cheddar cheese. Cook until cheese melts and soup is hot, 1-2 minutes. If desired, cool and then refrigerate in covered container and reheat in mi-crowave or on stovetop.

CANADIAN CHEESE SOUP

Great for a crowd since it serves 10-12 and 20 minutes to prepare.

1 medium onion, finely minced

2 carrots, finely minced

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

8 chicken bouillon cubes

2 1/2 quarts boiling water

1 12 oz. jar Cheez Whiz

1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 pint light cream

Salt and pepper

In small pan sauté onion and carrots in butter. Add flour to make a roux. In large saucepan, add bouillon cubes to boiling water. Add roux, using a whisk and stir until smooth. Add Cheez Whiz, liquid smoke and light cream. Season to taste.

CALIFORNIA CHEESE SOUP

1 quart water

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced onion

2 1/2 cup diced, peeled potatoes

1 cup diced carrots

1 bag (16 oz.) California blend vegetables

(or substitute equal amount vegetables of choice) Could use leftovers also

2 cans (10 1/4 each)

condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 pound process cheese, cut into cubes

Bring water to a boil in large kettle; add next six ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all vegetables are tender; about 30 minutes. Stir in soup and cheese; cook until soup is heated through and cheese is melted. Makes about 3 quarts or 10-12 servings.

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