This post is dedicated to some of my greatest loves. These ladies…
These are the ladies who taught Sunday School, confirmed the value my mother told me I had, hosted almost every potluck I’ve ever been to and who dressed up like rednecks for a party for me a few, four, five or twenty years ago.
Every young lady on the planet earth deserves to have women like these in their life. One of my most unreachable goals is to honor every minute they’ve spent with me and every ounce of love they’ve poured into me (even when I didn’t deserve it) by passing it on to others of all ages just like they’re still doing in my hometown.
I’m tearing up just writing about them and I don’t have a tissue handy, so I shall go back to my outrageous shower. Hay bales, quilts and clothes lines hung across the room with care and giggles. To this day, this is the most spectacular ladies party I have ever attended. No pink flowers. No white linens. And no stuffy rules. Everyone had a wonderful time laughing at our hosts with blacked-out teeth, hillbilly outfits, and hilarious songs sung almost on tune with washboards and spoons for accompaniment. They blindfolded me and my job was to guess the types of about 10 cheeses. Sweet baby Jesus, I didn’t know my cheeses. I probably should admit here that my favorite cheese 20 years ago may have still been Velveeta. Okay, it was.
So in honor of every real cheese known to man. I present thee with my Wisconsin Soup.
- 4 cups water
- 10 Johnsonville Bratwurst (or 2 packages of original, beer or cheddar brats)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 8 tablespoons flour
- 24 ounces chicken broth
- 2 cups hefeweizen beer
- 2 cups frozen potato squares
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 pound block of smokey sharp cheddar cheese, grated (save 2 ounces for topping)
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- Leaves of 3 sprigs fresh oregano, minced
- Leaves of 1 large sprig fresh basil, minced
- Leaves of 5 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
- Leaves of 1 medium sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
- Salt & pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil in medium-large saucepan. Add bratwurst and allow to cook at a rolling simmer for about 15 minutes.
Place olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Remove brats from water with tongs and place in soup pot to brown all sides. Save broth from bratwurst. Place browned brats on a cutting board to cool and place diced onion into soup pot to cook until translucent. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir while cooking for about 2 minutes. Add a little extra olive oil if needed.
Stir in chicken broth, bratwurst broth and beer. After broth thickens, add potatoes, heavy cream, all but a couple of ounces of the cheddar cheese and the herbs and spices. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve in bowls or mugs topped with, perhaps, a dollop of sour cream and some grated smoked cheddar.
And may you rock white tights with navy blue shoes, big bangs in all their glory, and sweaters with shoulder pads forever. And may this soup comfort your soul just like the wonderful, wise hillbillys around you for they are priceless jewels… only, you know, not stuffy.