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Cheeseburger Soup

Quintessentially American, this soup looks for a long time like it's going to be terrible--then suddenly it pulls together at the end and is unexpectedly rich and satisfying. It was contributed by Pat and Elaine Young of Oregon, also quintessentially American and in the best of ways. Hardworking and gutsy, they've got a son in highschool, are putting a daughter through college--and still decided to make significant career changes as "40 somethings" to secure a better future in the long run. Elaine got the recipe from her sister. Serve hot to 6-8 people as a filling meal.

Garnish: ¼ cup sour cream

First, brown the ground beef, drain and reserve it.

Saute the onion, carrots, celery, basil, and parsley in 1 Tablespoon of butter until they are tender. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and beef, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

In a small skillet, melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter, stir in the flour, and cook on low until bubbly. Whisk the milk into the roux and stir until thickened--then stir it into the soup pot. Bring to a boil, then stir in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Cook until the cheese melts.

When ready to serve, ladle into soup bowls, top each one with a spoonful of sour cream and swirl in.