My column about the “hen house” is delayed by a week or so. Since the snow storm came in and I had a caller wanting some different soup recipes, I decided to honor that request. Get the soup pots out and the slow cooker ready — the soup is on!

Cheeseburger soup

This soup is easy to make and the kids will like it also. Brown 1 lb. of extra lean ground beef in 2 to 3 tsp. olive oil with one large chopped onion and 1 cup diced celery. Cook just until the onion and celery is tender and meat is brown. Add 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper and cook an additional minute. Place all of this in a large soup pot. Then add 1 qt. of boxed or canned chicken broth, 1/2 cup carrot sticks, three medium peeled and cubed potatoes, 1 tsp. dry parsley and 1 tsp. dried basil, if desired. Bring this mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. In a separate saucepan, melt 4 tbsp. butter over medium heat and stir in 1/2 cup flour, until smooth and cooked, about two minutes. Slowly add 2 cups of milk and 8 oz. of cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into cubes. Continue cooking the milk mixture, stirring until cheese is melted and becomes thick and bubbly. Combine the cheese/milk mixture to the soup pot and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can garnish with bacon bits or cooked bacon on top and serve with warm biscuits.

Oven beef stew

Put 1 lb. beef cubes on the bottom of a large baking dish. Add, in layers, four large chopped potatoes, two chopped medium onions, four large sliced carrots and three stalks sliced celery. I put all of the vegetables in this order except the potatoes, which I place on the top. Mix 3 tbsp. minute tapioca with one large can V8 juice, 1 tsp. sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour this over the ingredients in the baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven about three to four hours; check for tenderness of beef. Serve with biscuits or corn bread.

Fresh squirrel stew

Mr. Bill called me and said he bet me a couple of squirrels that I did not have a recipe for squirrel stew. I assured him I would make a phone call and have the recipe within the hour. This is fresh from the country folks. Clean and process four squirrels for cooking — this includes cleaning and soaking the squirrels in cold water for up to four hours, changing the water often. Place the squirrels in a large stew pot, cover with unseasoned water, and simmer for three to four hours, until meat is tender. Drain water off and when cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones. To this meat, which is placed in a stew pot with just enough water to cover it, add 1 qt. corn, canned or frozen, 1 qt. lima beans, canned or frozen, one 8-oz. package of noodles, 1/2 cup chopped onion and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat up to boiling and then back to a steady slow boil. Cook until vegetables are tender. Taste for seasoning. My mom did not make squirrel stew but she did fry squirrels for my dad complete with gravy and fresh biscuits.

Next week we will get to the “hen house” for the old-fashioned Sunday dinner, chicken and dumplings.

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