Let’s face it. Sometimes we just get in a cooking rut and make the same things over and over. It may be time constraints, or lack of knowledge or creativity, but there comes a point where probably everyone realizes they have eaten the same 5 meals or so for the last couple of weeks. You know you’re guilty, so don’t try to deny it.
Earlier, while chatting with my BFF Roben Ryberg about school, kids, men, whatever (we live halfway across the country from each other!), I asked her to write a little something for us about what she thinks of when she’s writing her cookbooks. She baited me with “the cheeseburger soup story.” I’ve never had cheeseburger soup (we eat A LOT of taco soup), but this one has me inspired. I like to get fancy and creative, too, and sometimes it takes a minor suggestion from a friend…
From Roben Ryberg
Cassandra! I am delighted that you invited me to talk about food! By any standard, I am unconventional! I certainly think “outside the box!”
I am different than most (if not all) other good gluten-free food writers. I don’t start with a traditional recipe and convert it. I don’t use blends, though I will use a bit of a second flour on occasion. I’d like to share a story about one such recipe I developed for my latest book, You Still Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free.
Last year some friends and I were hanging out at a fire pit gathering talking about food. I always talk about food. Well, this one guy said the best soup in the world was, in fact, cheeseburger soup. He said that I had to include it in a future work. I thought, ugh. Well, I was just about finished writing my “soups” chapter and I thought I should develop one more soup. That memory came to mind and I thought okay, it might not appeal to me, but it clearly appeals to others.
I don’t like to look at other people’s work, especially gluten-free writers’ works. I’m happy to banter and talk food, but I don’t want to accidentally follow their path instead of mine. So, I googled pictures of cheeseburger soup. Honestly, they didn’t really look so good to me. But, cheese, beef, potatoes….it had potential. I clearly did not want to mimic the gloppy-looking photos, but it was a starting point.
So, I decided if I were eating a cheeseburger, what kind would it be? Naturally, I thought a bacon cheeseburger! Hmmm…no, even better, a mushroom bacon cheeseburger! And that was the beginning of the recipe.
First I needed a foundation (a base upon which to build flavor). That meant browning the ground beef, onions, and mushrooms in a saucepan. Then adding water, carrots and potatoes. I rather think of the potatoes as the “roll” in my cheeseburger! Then, in addition to a little salt and the very-important bacon bits, we needed a bit of creaminess and a bit of cheesiness. I opted for colby over cheddar as it just seemed softer, easier to melt, and more understated in flavor. I wanted this to be a cheeseburger soup, not a cheese soup!
And, with a little simmering, a little adjustment here and there, voila, a pretty darn amazing Cheese Soup.
By the way, I called the soup-suggester’s wife to see if she’d like it as a surprise for her husband. Fortunately she and their child had a little before he got home, as he ate both containers in a single meal!
As you know, I can rattle on about food for hours, but until you invite me back (to hopefully talk about the food science of breads—make that awesome, amazing breads), I’ll leave you with that bacon, mushroom, cheeseburger soup!
From You Still Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free, DaCapo Lifelong Books…
Cheeseburger Soup (by Roben Ryberg)
Made at the request of a friend. He wanted “Cheeseburger Soup,” but that wasn’t good enough for me. Instead, I created this “Bacon Mushroom Cheeseburger Soup.” This Cheeseburger Soup is lighter than most.
½ pound of ground beef
2 medium mushrooms, diced small
1 small onion, finely diced
½ cup sliced carrots
2 cups water
1 beef bouillon cube
1 baked potato, peeled and diced
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bacon bits
1 ½ cups shredded cheese (Colby preferred)
½ cup half and half
2 tablespoons bacon bits
1. In large pot, brown beef with mushrooms and onions.
2. Add remaining ingredients, except half and half and cheese.
3. Bring to boil. Cook until carrots are tender.
4. Turn heat down to medium-low. Slowly add half and half and cheese.
5. Simmer for a few minutes for flavors to blend.
6. Serve hot. Garnish with additional cheese or bacon bits if desired..
Makes 6 cups.
NOTE: To make the baked potato for this recipe, wash and pierce a potato (russet preferred). Microwave on high for approximately 4 minutes.
Thanks, Roben, for sharing with us!
In case you didn’t know, Roben is the author of The Gluten-Free Kitchen, You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free, The Ultimate Gluten-Free Cookie Book, Gluten-Free in Five Minutes, and You Still Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free, due out in July (and available for pre-order on Amazon). She also wrote the recipes within Elizabeth Strickland’s Eating for Autism: The 10-Step Nutrition Plan to Help Treat Your Child’s Autism, Asperger’s, or ADHD.
I can’t wait to see the new book. I’ve had a sneak peek at some of the recipes, and the kids love them!