By Angie Sutton
I often find myself considering meal ideas during the last few minutes of the workday when I’m about to head home. Coming up with a meal idea is often the most challenging. Finding the recipe may be the easiest part. Soup is my go-to dinner with one-pot preparation and easy clean up. When you have ample time, preparing recipes with fresh vegetables makes an enjoyable meal with great texture. Shortcuts, however, are always in order! Cooking ground beef in bulk on Sunday and freezing selected amounts is a real time saver. Fry your bacon or cook it in the oven in bulk at the same time. Canned or frozen vegetables, including diced onions, celery and peppers combination, can cut your preparation time. I quick-start the cooking process by microwaving the frozen vegetables for a few minutes on defrost.
Meat and Potatoes Soup
If you’ve got the fresh veggies handy, this soup tastes fantastic! Slice and dice your veggies thin and consistent for faster cooking. Shortcut the recipe by using canned carrots and Southern-style hash brown potatoes (give them a head start by thawing in the microwave for 4 minutes). The cheese melts much quicker if you purchase the pre-shredded bag or grate your block into shreds.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1. Brown ground beef and drain.
2. In a stockpot over medium heat, add the chicken broth and whisk in the flour. Add the carrots, potatoes, onion, celery and ground beef; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender.
3. Add the milk and cheese, stir until melted and combined. Stir in the sour cream.
Hearty Potato Soup
The bacon in this soup makes it a standout! This is one of our repeat recipes at Sutton Central, served with carrot sticks to round out the meal.
5 lbs. baking potatoes
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and rub olive oil lightly on potatoes. Pierce potatoes with a fork and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Cool slightly. Partially mash potatoes (including skins) and set aside.
2. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and crumble.
3. Add onion to bacon drippings and saute 5 minutes. Add salt, garlic and bay leaf; saute 2 minutes.
4. In a large saucepan add potatoes, milk, pepper, broth and contents of skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, if desired.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Baking the squash is a bit time consuming but definitely adds depth and flavor to this soup recipe! I like to brown bacon in the skillet to top the soup with before serving. A few sprinkles of goat cheese on top gives it a nice boost.
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs.), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Place squash, onion, bell pepper, bacon and garlic in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Create a single layer with mixture on the baking sheet. Season top with salt and pepper. Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until squash is easily pierced with a knife. Turn mixture about halfway through.
3. In a large stockpot over medium heat, add the squash mixture and sprinkle thyme over the top. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes before adding the chicken stock. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Puree with an immersion blender checking to make sure no large chunks remain. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
4. Serve immediately topped with cooked bacon, chives, goat cheese or a dollop of sour cream.