Years ago, when our children were little, we used to hold an annual fall party for family and friends on our beautiful wooded lot. We’d elaborately decorate the barn and yard with hay bales and pumpkins, colored lights and corn stalks. I’d cook large pots of soup, chili, baked beans and bratwurst. A dessert table always displayed an abundance of tasty autumn treats to satisfy all of the guests. This cheeseburger soup was always a staple recipe made for the festive backyard party. I would double or triple the ingredients and separate the batch to freeze a portion in serving sized containers. This way, we had a supply on hand to enjoy during the cool autumn and winter months.
2 pound ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
4 tablespoons butter, divided
6 cups chicken broth (I use chicken soup base mixed with water, as directed on package)
5 cups diced peeled potatoes
1/4 cup flour
4 cups (16 ounces) process cheese (Velveeta), cubed
2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
In a large soup pot, brown beef; drain and set aside. In the same pot, sauté the onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 tablespoon butter until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, potatoes and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt remaining butter. Add flour; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in the cheese, milk, salt and pepper; cook and stir until cheese melts.
Tip: I make my own croutons to top the soup. Just cube a few slices of day old bread or leftover buns and sprinkle them with oil, garlic powder and salt (to taste). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Cool; store in an airtight container.