Merry Christmas everyone. Burr! What happened to our 70 degree weather? Itís hard to believe it was so warm last Sunday. This is definitely soup weather.

I think soup is probably the oldest comfort food known to man. Itís easy and just makes a person feel warm all over.

The modern restaurant industry is said to be based on soup. Restoratifs, as soups were first called, were the first items served in public restaurants in 18th century Paris. This is where we get the word restaurant. From foodtimeline.com.

I have a few tried a true soup recipes that I keep the ingredients for on hand so that I can make them without having to go to the store. Staples such as canned tomatoes, beans, broth, frozen veggies, hamburger meat, chicken and pasta will help you pull together just about any type of soup without having to get out in the weather.

There are two basic kinds of soups: clear and thick. Clear soups are soups made with broth or stock as the main base. Thick soups usually have a cream or milk base or pureed vegetable base. They are either thickened with a roux or by the starch in the vegetable.

When cooking clear soups, a gentle simmer and occasional stirring is best. Cream soups should never be boiled because boiling can cause the milk fat to break down, making the soup thin and watery. It can also scorch easily.

Try not to cook the soup too long either. Not only do the ingredients lose flavor and texture; they also lose nutrients in the cooking process.

Soup is great the next day as a leftover and can be easily reheated in the microwave. One trick I like to use to avoid over cooked pasta in soup is to prepare the noodles separately and add them to the serving bowls instead of cooking them in the soup. This way the noodles donít become over cooked and fall apart when reheated.

In looking around on the internet for soup information I ran across a web site dedicated to soup. It is www.soupsong.com . They have recipes, jokes, history trivia and songs. Hereís a joke: What do you call a chicken in a hot tub? Answer: Soup. Whoís the head of the soup factory? Answer: Souperman! Ha, a little corny I know, but good for a laugh or two.

Hereís my easy recipe for Cream of Cheese and Broccoli Soup. I like to serve it with a sandwich that I can dip the corners in. Stay warm.

Cream of Cheese and Broccoli Soup

1/2 cup butter

1 onion, diced

1 (16 oz.) package frozen broccoli

4 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth

1 pound Velveeta

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2/3 cup cornstarch

1 cup water

In stock pot, melt butter. Sautť onions until soft in butter. Stir in chopped broccoli, cover with chicken broth, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes.

Reduce heat, stir in cheese until melted. Stir in milk and garlic powder.

In a bowl whisk or in a jar with a lid shake together cornstarch and water until dissolved. Stir into soup and cook until thick, stirring frequently.

† Jenean Perryman is the Culinary Arts Instructor at Northeast Technology Center Afton Campus.† Email Jenean at

tjperryman@netechcenters.com