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Right off the bat I’m gonna tell you that I am a believer in recipes, but more as a guide than a rulebook. Sort of a suggestion on how to “begin the process” of creating your own personal culinary masterpiece!!

Or not.

Yep. That’s part of the deal when you allow yourself to be a creative cook. You must take risks, think out of the box, have fun and – yes – be willing to fail sometimes. Boo-Boos happen. So what. One of the biggest problems I have is trying to re-create something that does end up coming out pretty tasty. I start “creating” with a little of this, a pinch of that, a little more of the other and a whole lotta whatever.  At the end of the day, I have NO IDEA how much of this or that is actually in the final product. My poor hubbie… “Hey sugar lump; any chance you can duplicate this?” Ummm… ya… No. Sorry. And, sadly, he does not actually call me sugar lump.

So I’m getting better about tracking my “culinary creativity”. I have always been one to mark all over the recipes in my many, many (many) cookbooks.  Cross this out, halve that ingredient, omit this, sub that… What I have also started doing is making notes on a post it note until I get to the “final answer”. I write down the exact ingredients as I add them, updating the amounts as I go along. For example, I may start out by adding a tablespoon of minced cilantro to a dish; but after two more adjustments I end up at 1/2 cup in the end. The same goes for something you might add that you aren’t so keen on. Make a note. Cookbooks were meant to be tattered and dog eared and scribbled on!! It’s a sign of love and affection!  (Side note: the exception is BAKING.  For the most part, stick to the exact measurements when baking)

So it’s the first really cold day outside today.  All thoughts are on comfort food. So how ’bout some Steak Soup? I am going to give you the recipe as it was given to me, first.  Then we’ll talk.

STEAK SOUP

8 T butter                                                                                                                                                                           ½

1/2 c flour

40 oz. cans beef broth

¼ c diced carrots

¼ c diced onion

¼ c diced celery

½ c chopped canned tomatoes

1 T Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce

¾ t seasoning salt

¼ t black pepper

5 oz frozen mixed vegetables

½ lb lean ground chuck, chili grind, browned and drained

Melt, but do not brown, the butter in a large soup pot. Add flour and stir to form a roux. Cook over medium heat without browning for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add beef broth to roux and stir until smooth and slightly thickened. Bring to a full boil. Add the carrots, onion, celery, tomatoes and pepper. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are just tender, 20-30 minutes. Stir in browning sauce to achieve a richer color and flavor. Stir in frozen vegetables and cooked ground beef. Simmer an additional 15 minutes, or long enough that the flavors become well blended. Makes about 4 servings.

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Here’s how I “personalized” this soup to make it mine… I gathered whatever veggies I had fresh, and oven roasted until tender, rather than boiling them in the soup. (In this case that included carrots, onions and tomatoes.) I had frozen peas and corn on hand, so those were my frozen veggies. (On the fresh and frozen veggies – I don’t measure. Just add as much as you want) I also had some oven roasted sweet potatoes leftover from the night before, so in they went as well. I don’t use butter.  I use a combination of a little olive oil and some of the stock.  I use unsalted beef stock, eliminate the seasoning salt and add in 1-2 packets of beefy onion soup mix.  My hubbie likes a meaty soup, so I double the amount of meat… or more!! I also add dried thyme; to taste. (I like a lot) and I double the pepper to 1/2 t (or more).

So there we go.  My version of Steak Soup. Would love to hear what YOU add into your Steak Soup to make it special…

live happy

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