Soup cuts across cultures. Its popularity spans the nation in wintertime and becomes comfort food in every corner of America. This is especially true in the small town of Kirbyton, Ky., when Rebecca Spraggs makes her Baked Soup, a recipe handed down in her family for generations.
“I can remember my grandfather making it. Just the thought makes me happy,” she says. “He’d cook it in a great big iron kettle. And when we’d come inside from sledding, it would be ready.”
This soup, as well as others, is part of Spraggs’ repertoire of comfort foods that she brings to the table as a caterer. About a year ago, she and a friend launched Catering by Lorie and Rebecca.
“We both loved to cook, and often did for family and friends,” Spraggs says. “So we started catering out of our houses.” In less than a year’s time, they’ve built up a good client base.
Spraggs says clients often ask for soups when they call. “It’s just good comfort food. People love it. And it makes a hearty meal, too, when we add sandwiches or salads.”
Magic happens when Spraggs stirs the pot of her favorite baked potato soup. As the cheese melts, the flavors of bacon, garlic and onions come together, bringing the pot to a crescendo of comforting flavors. “It’s got just the right amount of texture to make your taste buds happy,” she says. “It’s just wonderful.”
Her lasagna soup is one that sends mouth-watering Italian aromas through the home as it simmers in the slow cooker for hours. And her baked soup cooks in a slow oven allowing the vegetables to absorb the flavors of fork-tender meat, creating a delicious gravy that you can sop up with bread, or use a spoon to get every last bite. There’s something about cooking it in the oven that gives it such good taste, Spraggs adds.
“Soup is just so good. And it’s so easy, you can just throw it together and let it cook all day and you have a full meal, getting all the vegetables and meat you need,” Spraggs says. “You can use leftovers and probably canned goods from your pantry.”
Are you in need of a little comfort? Try one of Spraggs’ recipes and see if it doesn’t bring some warmth to your soul.
Loaded Potato Soup
3 pounds potatoes, peeled, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
8 cups of half-and-half
16 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
White pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Green onions, chopped (tops only)
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, optional
Melt butter in large pot, slowly add flour and half-and-half. Stir continually until flour is incorporated. Add Velveeta; continue stirring on medium heat until melted. Add potatoes, pepper, garlic, Tabasco, bacon and green onions. Once cheese is melted, turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream, if desired.
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 celery ribs, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 slice of bread, cubed
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, water, tapioca, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 3-quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 375° for 2 hours or until meat and veggies are tender. Serve with cornbread or corn cakes.
Crock Pot Lasagna Soup
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups beef broth (or more, see note)
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup V8 juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 cups uncooked shell pasta
Shredded cheddar cheese, optional
Mix tomatoes and tomato paste in Crock pot. Add broth, beef, garlic, parsley, basil, onion, V8 juice, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or on high 4 to 5 hours. Thirty minutes before end of cooking time, add in 1 cup of water and pasta. Stir to combine, cover and continue cooking 30 minutes. Serve topped with cheese, if desired.
Note: If you need more liquid, add extra broth when you add pasta.
Tips for making a super bowl of soup:
- To lighten up a cream-based soup, use fat-free milk or chicken or vegetable broth.
- Simmer soup as long as you can. It will only make the flavor better.
- Don’t saute the vegetables first.
- Use the freshest ingredients you can find.
- Do not add salt until the end. Taste as you go.
- If the recipe calls for chicken broth, and if you have the time, make your own. Use the chicken in the soup or save it to make chicken salad for sandwiches to go with the soup.