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 and 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 Info:
More About Mirepoix:
There’s something special about any soup recipe that calls for Velveeta.
Oh, I know, I know – Velveeta is not “real cheese,” but tell that to my stomach. The mere thought of the cheese-like stuff makes me weak in the knees. Toss in Pace picante sauce, avocado and chorizo and you have a dish that’s straight out of the 1970s with culinary crosshairs for your next meal.
Healthiness aside, I thought this soup was a super-tasty and f l e x i b l e soup that can accommodate any of your special ingredients to make it one all your own.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ When using ground chorizo, the finished texture was too grainy for me; on the next go of this I think chorizo links cut into chunks would yield a chunkier texture.
♥ My Cousin Julie said to try “Portuguese Chorizo,” if you can find it.
1 pound | chorizo
1 large | white onion, diced
2 stalks | celery, diced
1 | green pepper, diced
3 cans | chicken broth
2 | tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
to taste | cilantro, chopped
16 ounce jar | pace thick and chunky picante sauce (mild)
½ pound | velveeta
to serve | fresh avocado, diced
to serve | tortilla chips (or fritos)
to garnish | more cilantro, chopped
ii. what to do
1. In a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat, brown the chorizo, onion, celery and green pepper.
2. Add the broth, tomatoes, cilantro and picante sauce and simmer 1 hour, uncovered. Relax in your comfy chair or couch while you catch-up on your latest 1-hour of DVR programming. :)
3. Add Velveeta to the soup and stir here and there, until melted.
4. Serve soup into individual bowls. Top with avocado, chips or fritos … and a tad more cilantro.
Ready For Spaghetti?
On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese.
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table, it rolled on the floor,
And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door.
It rolled in the garden and under a bush,
And then my poor meatball was nothing but mush.
The mush was as tasty as tasty could be,
And early next summer it grew to a tree.
The tree was all covered with beautiful moss.
It grew great big meatballs and tomato sauce.
So if you eat spaghetti all covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball and don’t ever sneeze.
~ Tom Glazer
Sung to the tune of “On Top Of Old Smoky,”On Top Of Spaghetti” was one of my favorite childhood songs. This dish brings back a lot of the tastes of the 70s and is the first from Mom’s recipe book that calls for Velveeta. And we all know about Velveeta; Velveeta is to the 1970s as this dish is to my belly!
I haven’t cooked chicken on the bone in years (I’m weird that way). Luckily I had some help in the kitchen from “Blademaster Joe” as my chicken “boning” skills are weaker than a wet noodle.
It was featured on Foodista so you know it’s gotta be good!
5 pounds | whole chicken (on the bone)
1 large | onion, chopped in large chunks
3 | carrots, chopped in large chunks
2 stalks | celery, chopped in large chunks
1 tablespoon | peppercorns
2 cloves | garlic, chopped
2 | bay leaves
2 teaspoons | salt
5 pounds | chicken (seasoned, boned and chopped per “step i”)
3 stalks | celery, chopped
1 | green pepper, chopped
2 large | onions chopped
2 teaspoons | garlic juice
4 ounce can | mushrooms
10 ounces | spaghetti, broken
16 ounce can | tomatoes, diced and drained
2 tablespoons | ripe olives, chopped
1 can | cream of mushroom soup
to taste | salt
to taste | pepper
to taste | paprika
dash | worcestershire sauce
1 pound | velveeta cheese, grated
iii. what to do
1. Wash chicken well. Place all ingredients in large pot. Cover with water.
2. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Set lid at angle so steam can escape from pot. Lower heat to gentle boil and cook for up to 1.5 hours. Add more water if needed.
3. When meat is falling off the bone, remove from heat. Remove chicken from broth, save broth and let chicken cool. Once cool, remove skin and bones and discard. Chop meat, place into large bowl and set aside.
1. Strain broth using a cheesecloth or sieve. Discard seasonings (onions, carrots, celery, etc.).
2. Measure one quart of the chicken broth back into pan. To broth add the chopped celery, green pepper, onions, garlic juice and mushrooms.
3. Bring to a simmer and add spaghetti. Cook until spaghetti is done and almost all liquid is absorbed.
4. Add tomatoes, olives, soup, salt, pepper, paprika and mix well.
5. To chicken, add worcestershire and Velveeta and mix well. Then add chicken mixture to spaghetti.
Serves: Up to 12
~ ~ ~
Who is “Elizabeth Seale”
Sadly, I don’t know who Elizabeth Seale is. I did some online searching and no luck. She must have been a passionate foodie because she had pre-printed recipe cards with her name on them (see below). Personalized recipe cards were surely a rare thing back in the day! When scanning the card, I noticed a small imprint on the back that reads “Walter Drake & Sons., Inc. Made in U.S.A.” I’m writing the folks at Walter Drake to see if they can give me an approximate year for when the cards may have been sold. I know it was 1947 or later as 1947 is the year that Walter Drake was created.
After reading the recipe card a little further, I noticed Elizabeth was using keywords (today known as #hashtags) in her recipe. See her underlined words below for yourself: Simmer. Bone. Chop. Measure. Add. Simmer. Cook. Add. Mix. Add. #GoFigure!