The very first “Jim’s” opened back in 1963 at the corner of Broadway and Loop 410 in San Antonio. This location was my Dad’s absolute favorite to meet up for a standing breakfast with a large group of colleagues. When it was a lucky weekend day Dad would let me tag along. Here the staff knew him like the best of family.
My friend Dan said his Dad created this cheese soup for Jim’s Restaurants, which I remember being a favored thing right up there with the pet rock and the skateboard. This soup was a pre-appetizer staple that I liked more than the greener alternative – the salad. Um, no. When I asked my friend why his Dad named it “Canadian Cheese Soup” he said it was because “the name sounded good.”
Flash forward several decades to today and the recipe is still on Jim’s menu so it’s quite exciting to be able to enjoy it at home now that I’m not within walking distance of my childhood Jim’s.
My research for this recipe helped teach me the difference between a mirepoix, a roux, and the foodie “holy trinity” (deets below) so hats off to this silky, delicious, cheesy soup!
❤ I’ve adjusted the recipe ingredients below based on my friend’s inside scoop – cutting back on the milk, adding Tobasco, and using Velveeta instead of the triple play of cheeses I found in another copycat recipe which was: Cheese Whiz (16 ounces), Swiss (2 ounces), and cheddar cheeses (2 ounces).
❤ You can adjust the flour and milk as you see fit to arrive at your preferred consistency.
❤ I wasn’t sure what “chicken base” was, thinking it might be chicken stock or chicken broth. Turns out there is such a thing as chicken base – I found this “Better Than Bouillon” at my local market and it sure was flavorful, living up to its name.
❤ Refrigerate leftovers for an impromptu treat for when you’re in a hurry – you may find that adding a bit more milk will help return the silky, smooth consistency.
Veggie prep: About 10 minutes.
Total prep: About 45 minutes.
6 cups | water
5 stalks | celery, finely diced
¼ medium | onion, finely diced
3 medium | carrots, finely diced
4 tablespoons | low salt chicken base
2 sticks | butter (my grandmother insisted on Falfurrias)
1 cup | flour
20 ounces | Velveeta, cubed
2 ½ cups | milk
tiny bit | Tobasco
to garnish | oyster crackers (optional)
iii. What to do
1. In a stockpot over high heat bring the water to a boil.
2. Let’s make “mirepoix!” To the water add celery, onion, carrots, and chicken base. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until the celery is tender but firm. Note: About 15 minutes into the simmering start Step 3 (if you like the quick route)!
3. Next up? The roux: In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and mix constantly with a whisk until things are smooth and free of lumps. Cook your roux 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly to prevent scorching.
4. Reduce heat under the soup (not the roux) to medium-low, add the prepared roux and continue to whisk until everything is smooth and thick, 4-5 minutes.
5. Add the Velveeta and continue cooking until the cheese is melted, making sure to whisk occasionally.
6. Heat the milk in the microwave (or double boiler). Slowly add the milk to the soup mixture, whisking all the way. You can add a little more – or less – milk to reach your desired consistency.
To Serve: Spoon into bowls and top with a few shakes of Tabasco. After enjoying my first bowl I added a few oyster crackers for crunch and 5-7 fresh pinched oregano leaves to add a pop of herby flavor.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Relevant, Additional Foodie Info:
More About Mirepoix: