Spinach-Cheese Bisque

Around a year ago, I finally got around to trying this recipe for spinach-cheese bisque from one of my favorite blogs, http://crockpot365.blogspot.com.  While it was definitely delicious, there was an issue.  The day after I ate it, I woke up with terrible hives from my neck down.  NOT COOL.  When it happened, though, I had no idea what the culprit was and assumed it was a reaction to an antibiotic I was taking.  That night, I ate another bowl for dinner.  Fifteen minutes later the rash was back….so, of course, I was wondering what in the world in the soup could have caused that!  Not onions, spinach, butter, flour, milk, or any of the spices involved.  Those were all part of my regular diet.  Finally, I came to the conclusion that it had to be the 2% Velveeta I had put in the soup.  I had never bought 2% Velveeta before, only regular, so I had no previous experience.  As one of my friends pointed out, though, cheese that’s shelf-stable is probably not something we should be eating anyway.  I’ve been moving ever farther away from processed foods, so it just made sense to make this recipe Velveeta and processed-food free.  Here’s my version.  I promise it tastes even better than the original!

This makes 4-8 servings, depending on whether you are using it as a main dish or a starter.

Start by thawing a 10-oz package of frozen spinach.  I did this in the microwave, but, of course, you could thaw it in the fridge.  Next, dice a small onion and saute it in a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil in a medium to large pot until translucent.  While the onion is cooking, chop the spinach up a little bit, then add it to the pan with the onions and give it a stir.  Pour in 4 cups of chicken broth (I made mine, but if you are using store-bought, that’s 2 cans or 1 box) and bring to a simmer.

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While the soup in simmering, shred 4 ounces of cheddar cheese.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until it begins to bubble, then whisk in a tablespoon or 2 of flour to form a roux (I didn’t measure, but I used closer to 2 tablespoons).  Slowly and gradually whisk in 1 cup of milk (if you add it all at once, your roux will clump up).  Once the roux thickens, gradually whisk in the grated cheddar cheese until smooth (this is also a great base for mac & cheese!).  You could skip this step, but I used my immersion blender to break up some of the leaves to make my soup a little smoother.  Pour the cheese sauce into the soup and stir it together.

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Now, remember the other night when I told you not to judge me when I used the other half of my carton of cream?  Well, here it is.  Just pour it right in.  Yep, a whole cup.  Yum.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve with good bread-this is an herb and cheese focaccia I picked up at the grocery store bakery (I’m so ashamed!).  We also grated a little fresh nutmeg over-nutmeg goes great with spinach dishes!

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