The Thrifty Kitchen: Cheesy Green Bean Soup

It’s green bean picking season in the garden. Our weather has also taken a “fall turn” recently. Fall gets me in the mood for soup! As I picked a long row of green beans last week, I remembered a recipe my mom made a lot when I was growing up. It’s just a simple, green bean based soup. Ham is the special ingredient. It’s a filling, comforting sort of meal. Like most soups, it is great with some yummy, crusty bread. Here’s the recipe:

  • Use leftover ham or a ham bone, or, if you don’t have these, then bake your ham. My family slow cooks our ham in 7-up overnight at 275 degrees. It’s delicious this way!
  • Chop one small onion and saute it in a small amount of olive oil.
  • Add 2 cups of ham broth from the baked ham.
  • Add 1 large can chicken broth.
  • Add 2 quarts of green beans (home canned are best!)
  • Simmer until the green beans are tender.
  • Add 1 can of evaporated milk (You can use regular milk; it just won’t be quite as full of flavor).
  • Melt 1/4 cup of Velveeta cheese in the soup. Stir continually.

Making soup is a must for the thrifty kitchen. The advantages are many. Most soups can be made in bulk, and the leftovers can be frozen. Thawing homemade soup is a quick and healthy alternative to other fast dinner options. Soup can be made fairly cheaply, particularly if you make your own broths or grow your own vegetables. Even when meat is called for in a soup, it’s never the main point; if your grocery budget is tight, rely on the broth and only add a portion of the meat that is called for. A final thought: Soup can be a sneaky way to get your kids to eat vegetables. When vegetables are incorporated in meals with other flavors (particularly cheese!), they are sometimes more appealing to kids.

Another great thing about soup is that it is versatile. It can be its own meal; serve it with a side of crackers. Or, it can be one course in a big, fancy meal. However you choose to incorporate it, I hope you’ll enjoy my family’s green bean soup recipe.

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