Cream of Anything Soup

    If you're making Cream of Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts or other green vegetable, you may want to puree the vegetable before mixing it in with the white sauce thinned with (usually chicken) broth that makes up the base of the soup.

For the broth  I use all the gnawed chicken bones, raw necks and carcasses I've been saving in the freezer for weeks. (Oops, if you're a vegetarian, turn away your eyes!) I simmer it for hours until every bit of chicken flavoring has left the bones. After it's a bit cooled, I strain out the bones and use the remaining broth in the soup du jour.

Cut up the vegetables into small pieces and simmer until tender in 1-2 cups chicken broth. If you want to puree them, use either a blender or food processor.

For the cream base, you'll be making a recipe for White Sauce, as follows:

Melt 2 tablespoons butter,

stir in 2 tablespoons flour till it bubbles.

Slowly add 1 cup milk. You're supposed to scald it before adding; I've poured it in cold more often than not. Stir till smooth.

(Your basic White Sauce can be used in so many different ways! So take this moment to decide - do you really want cream soup tonight? Or maybe you'd rather eat Potatoes au gratin or Macaroni and Cheese. Or maybe even Chicken Divan! If you can turn that white sauce into dinner in such a myriad of ways, are you sure you want the soup? If so, read on!)

Add a combination of broth and more milk, to make 2-1/2 to 3 cups. Stir till smooth.

Add pureed or well chopped vegies, stir in well.

The classic seasoning is salt, white pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. But experiment! You may want to add a pinch of cayenne pepper and/or thyme, dill or another of your favorite herbs.