Quick and Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup

Seriously, the title doesn’t lie. This soup takes only slightly less time than opening a can o’ soup and heating it up; even better, it tastes a thousand times better and doesn’t have the host of ingredients that stuff with the red and white label does, in addition to doing away with the allergens in that soup in a can. Did you know Campbell’s isn’t gluten-free? It contains wheat flour, in addition to 14 other ingredients. You can make your own in minutes, and do it to suit your preferences or needs. Need a dairy-free / gluten-free / vegan / soy-free / MSG-free soup? This is the recipe for you. Just substitute the cream for coconut or almond milk if you’re dairy-free or vegan, and the rest of those allergies are already taken care of. No gluten, no whey, no MSG in this pretty green meal.

Better yet, you can save on dishwashing if you do like I did, and drink it from a mug.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
yields 4 servings

ingredients:

1 ½ lb broccoli florets, frozen
1 medium onion, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter, separated
pinch of nutmeg

directions:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan and sauté onions until golden and softened. Add 1 cup of stock, deglaze if necessary, and broccoli. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until broccoli is tender. Remove from heat. If using a standard blender or food processor, allow to cool for a few minutes and puree in batches to desired consistency. Return the puree to the pan and add the remaining 2 cups of stock, as well as the nutmeg, remaining tablespoon of butter, and cream. Stir gently over medium heat until soup is heated through. Serve plain, or with shredded cheese, sour cream and chives, or whatever your heart desires.

*Note: I’ve found that a couple of tablespoons (roughly) of white wine added to the soup after pureeing gives it a nice bit of extra body. (I keep leftover wine in the freezer in Ziploc bags for adding to soups and stews; it usually ends up as less of an ice-pack and more of a wine slushy.) However, if you’re not interested in the alcohol, leaving it out won’t hurt a bit.

A Georgia tradition–chicken mull.

While it is not unusual for me to proudly proclaim my Kentucky heritage, there are a few things that, like Kentucky’s hot browns and Ale-8, Georgia has all to its own. I’m going to address one of them today, and that is chicken mull.

Yes, indeedy, you read that right: mull. Not unlike “church fluff” and “funeral potatoes” in its own right, chicken mull is something you’ll often see at a church potluck or family gathering, usually in the colder months (when they make an appearance). It is also one of those foods that just doesn’t venture too far from its origins – chicken mull, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t exist far out of North Georgia, quite possibly not even out of the general Athens area. I know it definitely didn’t exist in my houses when I was growing up. Chicken and dumplings, chicken and stars, chicken noodle – chicken mull was nowhere to be found. Don’t confuse it with chicken stew, which is a different animal altogether. Stew involves vegetables, is mostly broth and leaves out the cream.

Though the origins of chicken mull elude me, I can be fairly sure that it was created in a time of a short-listed pantry. It’s pretty simple to make – shredded chicken, stock or broth, milk, crackers and salt and pepper. If you buy a whole chicken, as seen here, instead of chicken in a can and stock in a box (or can), you add cooking time but save money – poaching the chicken gives you plenty of stock and more than enough meat, but requires shredding by hand and straining the stock (my preference) before adding the meat and remaining ingredients into your liquid. You also have the option in such case to control what goes into your mull – always a plus in my book. The frugality appeal is what has made it so popular as a church potluck – cheap and easy, in monstrously gigundous rather large quantities if needed.

(Behold, my ugly CrockPot. Ahem.)

Mull is comfort food at the top of the list – creamy, thick and velvety on the tongue. Easy to make, and enough for leftovers to eat the next day or freeze for another time.  Fix it with a salad and have a full meal. The best way to eat it is hot out of the pot, with a generous helping of Texas Pete (no Tabasco, please), and maybe some extra crackers.

Chicken Mull
A Family Recipe

ingredients:
One whole roasting chicken (4-5 lbs)
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cans of evaporated milk or 3 1/2 cups milk or cream
2-3 sleeves of Ritz (or crackers of choice)
Salt and pepper to taste

directions:
Boil chicken in deep stockpot or crockpot, with enough water to cover, until meat is done and tender. Remove chicken from stock, let cool enough to handle, and shred meat from the bone. Strain stock back into cooking pot, add shredded meat, milk and additional broth. Let cook to a simmer, add crushed crackers and salt and pepper, and cook to desired thickness. Add more crackers if needed. Serve with hot sauce and extra crackers if desired.

It really is as simple as that. More crackers means a thicker mull; using milk or cream means a richer mull than using evaporated milk. It’s extremely forgiving, and very tasty. I promise you won’t regret making it the next cold night that comes around!

The classic, the not so troublesome, tasty French onion soup.

I was going to make baked potato soup last night when I got home – ambitious of me, to bake 2 pounds of potatoes, then dice and mash them and cook them down into a soup. All this after a good, solid martial arts workout? I don’t think so, scooter. But I told 354 that I would cook supper for him, and like a good, trusting man, he didn’t eat anything so he could have supper when I got home (around 2100 zulu). What’s a girl to do? I suggested French onion soup, his eyes lit up and the deal was done.

Had I ever made French onion soup before? No. (Had I ever eaten it? No.) Was I scared? No! I had recipes galore – Julia, BHG, Cooking, the entirety of the Internet at my fingertips! What was to be scared of?

After two to three hours looking through recipes online and in-hand, I decided. Enough was enough. Enough of the recipes said onions, beef stock, butter, flour and a very, very small amount of sugar, and generally some dry white wine, so I figured it couldn’t be that hard to replicate. And on the whole, it wasn’t. There were pieces and parts of things that I will definitely do differently next time, but the soup itself, like soups should be, was simple.

(Remainder, including pictures, under the cut.)

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