Thank you guys for voting! I never thought the response would be so high! No worries to all you cheesecake enthusiasts. I made that today too and took photographs so (God willing) it’ll be up tomorrow or Tuesday.
So…cheeseburger soup. Let’s just start off with a quick history lesson to how we got to where we are today. Nikki was on the elliptical watching “Diners, drive-ins and dives” (as she often does) and this soup was featured. It sounded like something that could be made with way less calories so I decided to give it a shot.
Just to illustrate how much I love you all…I used beef for this recipe. Actual beef. As in, “Nik’s pouch and beef have a sometime-y relationship” beef. But I wanted to stay as true to the recipe as possible. At the end I also give some tips to avoid pitfalls that occurred in the final crafting of this recipe.
Let’s get started shall we?
Ok I am restructuring this recipe format a bit because the last organization of it sucked. I got a lot of questions that were in the text (my fault not yours…I’m a writer for goodness sakes I should know better!)
So take two:
Ingredients for the version I made:
1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 93/7…you can use turkey too and the next ingredient is why)
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (I used hickory flavor. Next time maybe mesquite. Both the divas said the final product was slightly “hamish”)
6 slices of chopped turkey bacon
1 medium onion, sliced into slivers
1 can low-sodium, low-fat beef broth
1 tablespoon butter OR light butter spread (I used the latter)
1.25 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 can fat-free evaporated milk
2 tbsp flour (whatever kind you used…I used carbalose)
3/4 c. unflavored greek yogurt
salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika
diced tomatoes, COLD shredded lettuce
In a medium pot that has been sprayed with non-stick, cook turkey bacon until slightly crispy. Add onions and cook until onions are browned nicely. Add beef broth and set on low to simmer.
In a bowl, mix whatever seasonings you’d normally put into a burger plus the liquid smoke and then form the meat into a big ball. In a sprayed pan, place the ball of meat and then mash into a large patty that looks like this:
Once it’s completely browned on one side, flip it and let it brown on the other side before breaking it up into chunks as big or small as you’d like. Here’s the browned, flipped mass o’ meat:
Once everything is browned (and broken up…don’t leave the patty whole…that would not be good), add the meat to the pot with the onion/broth mixture. In the same pan that you cooked the meat in, add the butter (or butter spread) and allow it to melt. Add flour and stir into a rue.
Slowly add, evaporated milk, whisking as you go. Let this mixture simmer to a rolling boil before adding cheese then turn the heat down to low. Now this is the MIND NUMBING part but oh so important. Cheese sauce is a low and slow process. Do it too quick and you get gritty sauce. So low and slow. Stay near the pan to stir frequently but don’t turn it up. Yes, it will take forever. Yes, this is boring as hell but YES it will be worth it!
As the sauce is starting to thicken up a bit (it will be thinner than you think it should be), crack two eggs into a bowl. Ladle a little of the cheese mixture out and add it to the eggs about a tablespoon at a time. The eggs should get thicker. Whisk them quickly and put THAT mixture back into the cheese mixture. If you are successful…well you’ve just tempered eggs my friend. Now why did you temper eggs, you may ask? Because the mixture is still too thin and in the interest of this NOT being a complete carb-fest we had to thicken the sauce WITHOUT additional flour. K? If you’re nervous about tempering eggs, you can add a bit of cold water to a tablespoon or two of flour and add it slowly into the mixture. (Edited to add: also if you’ve never tempered eggs before you might want to go the flour route the first time out. But you should know pretty soon into the process if you did it right. If you do it wrong you get egg chunk which is…um…not good…)
Once all that is done, add in the greek yogurt. Again, low and slow people. This is a lot of dairy going on and LOTS of room for curdling. Batch #1 had some curd action going on. Tasted great. Didn’t feel so great though. The purpose of the yogurt is to further thicken AND to add more protein! This doesn’t look terribly exciting but here’s my cheese sauce in progress:
So after you’ve stirred the cheese sauce for about half an eternity, it should be smooth and creamy. Mine never achieves shinyness (I think there is oil involved in getting it shiny). It’s now ready to go with the meat/onion/bacon/broth mixture. Pour it in and set the pot on low. Allow it to simmer about 30 minutes or so. Unless the liquid gets low you can leave the top off the pot so that the liquid can reduce.
And once that’s done you’re good to go. Staying true to the original I did add the tomato and lettuce but I couldn’t bring myself to put it in the soup so I garnished. For two reasons. #1 in batch 1 the tomatoes ended up cooking on the reheat and that totally took away from the burger feel of the thing. And #2 not everyone is going to buy into the idea so it’s an easier sell all around if you put it on the side and let folks add what they want.
Having said that…the tomatoes are essential. The lettuce, in my estimation is not. Although if you use cold, crisp lettuce it is a very nice compliment. Also, in batches 1 and 2 I simply used meat without liquid smoke. And it didn’t taste like a burger. It tasted like meat and cheese. Which is very different. So I would invest in a bottle if you don’t already have one in your pantry. And again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to go slow with the cheese sauce. If you have a better method for making cheese sauce: a) by all means use it and b) please let me know. Cheese sauce is ALWAYS a thorn in my side!
Here is the final product:
I had to change batteries in my camera and just that quick the lettuce began to wilt. So you can see why adding it should be the absolute last step!!!
The divas like it although, as I said, I got heavy handed with the liquid smoke (the above recipe is adjusted down to accommodate).
I don’t have stats on this just yet. I will say it is fairly caloric and I wouldn’t make this as a regular meal but it is a nifty way to get over the cheeseburger hump if you are just starting out or if, like me, you can’t manage a whole cheeseburger no matter how hard you try!
Anyway…cheese-a-palooza continues with our cheesecake soon…