I was right yesterday. When my kids woke up and saw snow on the ground, they wanted nothing more than to get outside and play in it. They didn’t want to brush their teeth, they didn’t want to eat any breakfast; their little eyes were still half closed with sleep. But they were running to the closet and pulling out heavy sweaters and thick, wooly socks.
With just a little bit less enthusiasm than them, I layered on my own sweaters and prepared to join them in the snow. Camera in hand and snowbrush for the car in the other, I joined them as we went out in the snowy morning. Oh, and there was much joy to be had! Even though there couldn’t have been more than an inch of snow on the ground, snow angels, follow-the-footprints, and snowmen were all delightedly enjoyed.
We were outside for quite a while, and by the time we finally went inside, I was chilled to the bone. Fortunately, I had made up this Spicy Mexican Vegetable Soup the day before, and it was the perfect solution for warming up on a cold, snowy day.
I originally started out looking for a broccoli-cheese soup that I could make in the crockpot. As a busy mama, I prefer the flexibility of crockpots rather than sitting over the stove (haven’t had time to stir the soup in two hours? No problem, it’s in the crockpot! Forgot you were even making it? No problem, it’s in the crockpot!) Anyway, I found a few varied recipes and decided to put them all together to make my own version of a broccoli-cheese soup. And so I present: Spicy Mexican Vegetable Soup.
This soup is creamy, spicy and full of vegetables. It has a great zing to it, but if it’s still not spicy enough, you can add a dash of hot sauce as well. The best thing about this soup is that you can start it the day before and give it only the most minimal effort without sacrificing taste – a busy mother’s dream.
Spicy Mexican Vegetable Soup
* vegetarian * crockpot *10-12 servings*
For the Vegetable Soup:
– 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
– 2 cups chopped carrots
– 1 ½ cup chopped onion
– 2-3 minced garlic cloves
– 1 cup celery
– ½ t cumin
– ½ t chili powder
– 2 lbs frozen broccoli florets
– 28 oz Ro-Tel Tomatoes & Diced Green Chilies
– 2 cups water
– 1-2 T bacon bits (optional) * McCormick’s brand “Bac’n Bits” are actually vegan!
For the Cheese Sauce:
– ¼ c butter
– ¼ c flour
– 2 c milk
– 2 c shredded Mexican-style cheese (or use shredded cheddar)
– Salt and pepper
– chopped red onion
– diced mild green chilies
– shredded Mexican-style cheese (or use shredded cheddar)
– sour cream
– chili powder
To Make the Soup
Place the olive oil in the bottom of the crockpot and add the carrots, onion, garlic, and celery, along with the cumin and chili powder. Stir well to coat. Turn on high and heat for about a half hour or until the vegetables are fragrant (if you’re pressed for time, you can sauté these vegetables in the olive oil in a skillet on the stove and then transfer to the crockpot).
Add the broccoli, the can of Ro-Tel and 2 cups of water. Stir well, reduce heat to lo, cover and cook for 6-8 hours, adding a bit of water if necessary. (I cooked mine overnight, so if you go over 8 hours, it’s no big deal, so long as there’s enough liquid in there that it doesn’t start to burn.) Take a little over half of the soup out of the crockpot and place into a large bowl. Let it cool while you make the cheese sauce so it can be safely pureed.
For the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a skillet over med-lo heat. Add the flour and mix together until it is thick. Add ¼ cup milk at a time, stirring in between each addition so that it is fully incorporated. By the time you add the full 2 cups, you should have a creamy white sauce. (If yours is still clumpy, add a touch more milk). Add the cheese and stir well to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
The removed soup should be cool enough to puree. Puree, and add back into the crockpot along with the cheese sauce. Cook on low for at least another half hour to incorporate the flavors (although longer is fine too – I cooked mine for 3 more hours).
When you’re ready to eat, place it into serving dishes, and top with cheese, chilies, onion and sour cream. Sprinkle with chili powder.
After we warmed up, we cuddled together on the sofa and read stories while we watched the few tumbling snowflakes fall from the sky. The children had put on their warm footed pajamas and I had just made some hot coffee. As we read and laughed and spent some quiet time together, I decided that winter isn’t going to be so bad after all.
~ Mellie ★