MUSHROOM SWISS BURGER SOUP: A SIMPLE PLEASURE

“The simplest things are overlooked. And yet, it is the simplest things that are the most essential.” 

― Thomas Lloyd Qualls

What strange times we are living in. For many months I have sat poised at my computer attempting to write with a huge question mark looming over my head. I am sure you have had many of the same emotions.

As a teacher, this school year I am taking things day-by-day. Each day at the end of 7th hour I say a little prayer of thankfulness that I was given another day of face-to-face instruction with my students. Before I leave for home, I collect any items I might need in the event we receive notification that we are moving to distance learning. I knew it was inevitable and yesterday morning we received news that we are moved to Distance Learning for the next two weeks. We are slated to return for face-to-face instruction on November 30th. My fingers are crossed that it happens.

While I try not to let my heart and head grow anxious with a web of uncertainty looming, I find that it is the simple things that keep me grounded. This fall I planted over three-hundred tulip and daffodil bulbs, I decided that my pandemic hairstyle needed a stylish change, and I subscribed to a couple of home delivery meal kits to glean new ideas for our menu. While I love to cook and plan our family dinners, the school year during the time of Covid-19 has had me frazzled. The meal kits have been a refreshing option in our meal rotation and I am gathering some new ideas for our table. Roasted carrots are now a regular feature on our plates, my husband does not despise ginger as much as he thought he did, and my step son is wild about steak topped with goat cheese butter. 

In times of uncertainty, such as during a pandemic, relying on wholesome, home cooked food is both comforting and nourishing. When I plan out our weekly menu, I plan a few quick meals for spontaneous changes in our schedule, work days that turn into work nights, and evenings when I do not have enough energy to prepare entire meals. On these evenings, soup helps fill in the cracks. A bowl of soup can help stretch leftovers (especially with a pre-teen in the house) and it can be partnered with a salad or sandwich for a meal.

I can eat soup year round, but during chilly winter months, a steaming bowl of soup is especially satisfying. My husband and step-son prefer a creamy and hearty soup and they gave two thumbs up to the recipe I am sharing with you. 

My inspiration for the soup is in the name: a mushroom swiss burger. However, I wanted to create a recipe that was not as calorie laden as a greasy burger and the side of obligatory French fries that usually accompanies it. While this soup is more indulgent than a broth based soup, you can slim it down with your choice of ingredients. . It can fit well into lower carb dining and if you do not eat meat you can add extra mushrooms (they are a great substitute for meat) and use a high quality vegetable stock. 

MUSHROOM SWISS BURGER SOUP

*1 pound of ground beef
*4 cups of beef stock/broth
*8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
*½ cup of chopped onion

*3 ribs of chopped celery
*2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
*2 Tablespoons of olive oil
*8 ounces of Swiss cheese (and more to top the finished soup. I used a Swiss gruyere blend)

*4 Tablespoons of butter
*½ cup of flour

*1 cup of milk (I used 2% but you can also use cream)
*Salt and pepper to taste
*Optional – 2-3 Tablespoons of tomato paste (I did not add any to this batch, but it adds a depth to the body of the soup)

*Optional – croutons to top the soup

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes and add the ground beef to brown. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes. Make sure that the mushrooms, ground beef, and onions are brown and caramelized. Add the broth and bring to a simmer.


In a separate saucepan melt the butter and slowly incorporate the flour. Whisk well for 2-3 minutes and be careful not to burn. Add the milk into the butter and flour mixture (roux) and whisk well so there are not any lumps. Add the swiss cheese into the roux until it’s melted. Spoon the roux into the soup pot and mix well.

Simmer for 10 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with a sprinkle of cheese, a few croutons on top, or a toasted baguette. Enjoy!

Mushroom Swiss Burger Soup


As chilly weather and snow accumulates outside, this soup will help keep you and your loved ones warm and nourished. Making food for others is a simple act of kindness that reminds us that many of life’s greatest pleasures are simple. I find cooking extremely grounding during these challenging times. Make sure you check out my soup tab for over twenty other healthy soup recipes.

November is close and as we welcome the holiday spirit into your heart, I wish you health and happiness. Take care of yourself and take care of each other. Eat more homemade food, eat your vegetables, and wash your hands!

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan in fall splendor.
Find the beauty in your backyard.
Photography and enjoying nature is one of my simple pleasures. Along with cooking, of course.


LOW CARB CREAMY CHICKEN & MUSHROOM SOUP WITH CAULIFLOWER RICE

Winter Wonderland

If you have been paying attention, some of the most popular buzz-words right now are wellness, self-care, and low-carb. Though, I admit, as I age I realize how important paying attention to all three are. While I have not jumped 100% on the “carbs are evil” bandwagon. One of my intentions for 2020 was to be mindful of creating a meal plan for myself that was lower in carbs.

A couple of years ago, like many people I have encountered, I was diagnosed with thyroid issues. To be specific, Hashimotos Disease, where my antibodies are attacking my thyroid. As if the fatigue and mood swings that come with thyroid issues were not enough, my body has also experienced stubborn weight gain that does not seem to want to leave.

Thus, I’ve tried many different techniques to give my metabolism a boost. Exercise definitely helps and I have found that eating lower carb, helps me feel better. While the scale still moves at a snail’s pace, I feel less bloated and have more energy. So I am going to continue to reduce and do my best to eliminate my intake of sugar, pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread.

I have always been a self-confessed late bloomer. Therefore, while people have been enjoying cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower, and other low-carb versions of their favorite sides – I was not. Years ago I tried mashed cauliflower and enjoyed it – but sometimes it is difficult when you cook for a family to have to prepare two separate meals. So this year I decided I would try my best to adapt the recipes I make my family to low carb ones for myself (then it would not feel like I am making two separate meals). For example, recently while preparing lasagna I made  a couple of individual servings for myself using all the same ingredients except I swapped out the pasta for a thin layer of zucchini in mine.

The recipe I am sharing today is one that I made for my weekday lunches. My stepson and husband both thought it smelled amazing and after taking a taste they both agreed that it was soup that they both would eat. The cauliflower gives it body and does give it the consistency that rice would. 

LOW CARB CHICKEN & MUSHROOM SOUP WITH CAULIFLOWER RICE

*1 roasted chicken. I used 1 cup of chicken for the soup and used the rest for another recipe  (I roast the chicken, remove the meat, and make bone broth from the carcass)
*4 cups of bone broth or stock
*2 Tablespoons of olive oil
*½ cup of finely chopped onion
*3 ribs of finely chopped celery
*Tablespoon finely minced garlic
*2 eight ounce containers of mushrooms
*12 ounce bag of cauliflower rice (you can find fresh in the produce section of most grocery stores or in the frozen foods. You can also make your own in a food processor)
*1 cup of heavy whipping cream (you can substitute with milk but I recommend the cream for the richness it imparts)
*Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, celery, garlic, and mushrooms in the olive oil until the mushrooms cook down (approximately 5-10 minutes). Add the broth, chicken, and cauliflower and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cream and cook for 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

While this is not a super thick soup, the flavor is rich and hearty. I did not feel like it needed to be thickened. It would also be wonderful with kale or spinach added at the end with the cream.

If you made any new year’s resolutions for your health, I hope that you are still giving yourself the attention you deserve. Remember, we cannot always be perfect – but we can make small strides that lead to big results. We are worth it!

Spaghetti Squash Soup with Tomatoes

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

As the wind howls and snow falls outside I contemplate this beautiful scene. We had an incredible growing season in our new hoop house and I cannot wait to see what 2018 brings for the Waldo Farm.

As 2017 takes its final bow, I imagine that I am not alone as I reflect on the past year. Experience has taught me to not have regrets, but to believe that everything happens for a purpose (even if we are too close at the time to realize that gifts come in multiple wrappings and disguises).

I believe that we are our worst critics and that we must focus on the positives in our lives and not wish time away waiting for the things that we long for. We must focus on the now, while planning for the future. Even small changes can impact our tomorrow and help us achieve our dreams. 

What if we decide, as we reflect on the past year, to not beat ourselves up for all the broken promises we made (to ourselves or others), and we focus on the strides we made to live a full life? What if at the same time we made small and manageable resolutions and intentions to plan, grow, and set goals? Imagine entering 2018 with a mindset that allows us to move forward with wisdom and courage.
My goals for the New Year, as every year, are to focus on my health. After being diagnosed with Hashimotos disease this fall I have had to take many deep breaths and learn new things about my body. I profoundly believe that taking care of ourselves allows us to better take care of others. Since we have to eat every day, the way we nourish our bodies seems to be a natural start. While my taste buds naturally gravitate to fruit and vegetables – I can easily be lured into treats and indulgences that are heavily processed (especially over the holidays). Therefore, I have to make time to prepare wholesome food in my own kitchen.

While you will find a wide array of salad recipes on my blog, in the winter months I enjoy accompanying my greens with a steaming bowl of soup. Broth based soups help fill you up at mealtime and even make a satisfying and guilt-free snack. I love filling my stockpot, or crock-pot, with vegetables and have found that sliced cabbage or spiralized squash make a wonderful substitute for rice or pasta.

In the soup recipe that I am sharing with you today, I use spaghetti squash to bulk up the bowl.  This was a recipe that I shared back in 2013 and it is one that I keep going back to. This year this soup is extra special to me because I was able to can tomatoes from our hoop house and had a bounty of spaghetti squash. Of the benefits of growing squash in the summer is that when kept in a cool place it will last for months. Plus, I have noticed that local supermarkets offer a wide variety of squash throughout fall and winter. Some people are intimidated by the task of preparing squash, but they actually are not labor intensive.

Is there anything more lovely than garden tomatoes?

SPAGHETTI SQUASH AND TOMATO SOUP

  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 28 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • Quart of tomatoes (large can)
  • 1/2 large chopped onion
  • 3 ribs of celery chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped (I use 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red)
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • Large cooked spaghetti squash (Approximately 10 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon each of oregano, rosemary, and basil

To prepare the squash simply pierce with a knife, or fork, and place into a shallow baking pan that is filled with water. (I bake the squash whole and use about an inch of water).

Bake for approximately 60 minutes at 375 degrees (the time depends on the size of your squash).

Let cool and cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and use a fork to shred the squash. It will naturally pull apart in strands that will resemble pasta.

To prepare the soup, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and carrot in the olive oil until soft and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Makes 15 cups.

You could cut the recipe in 1/2 and it would still make a generous pot of soup. I like to make extra to freeze. You could add beans for protein and add any other vegetables such as zucchini and mushrooms. It is delicious, filling, and the addition of tomato sauce makes it taste similar to spaghetti.

When my friend Jackie made this soup she added a dollop of cottage cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan and said it tasted like lasagna. Add some croutons or a slice of garlic bread and you have a satisfying meal that will keep your healthy resolutions in check.

Whatever your goals are for 2018, make sure that they are achievable and realistic. Setting small goals helps us achieve success that will snowball and we can confidently make the next steps to finding our balance. Let us make sure to make time for our health in the coming weeks, month, and year. Trust me, we are worth it!

I was also able to can tomatoes and salsa from our tomatoes.