This week's recipe features a cheesy, savory soup designed to be a crowd pleaser and feeder.

KGLC of Miami, Radio Sportscaster Russ Martin, would say “Tonight we are coming to you from the Beautiful Civic Center in Miami, Oklahoma.”

Yes, at one time, the Miami Civic Center was THE sports mecca for this area and the pride of our community. It was not only home to the Wardog basketball team, but at one time was also the home court for the Norsemen of NEO. It has hosted many sports venues over the years such as wrestling tournaments, Golden Glove boxing tournaments, professional wrestling, and even bull riding.

Like many of you, I grew up with the Civic Center. Most of the local children from my era, and still so today, learned to play basketball in the Civic Center Gymnasium. It must have been a scheduling nightmare during the 1960’s to make sure that the College, High School, and the youth basketball league all had access to the facility. When NEO built their (New) Gymnasium, in the late 1960’s, they moved their basketball games out of the Civic Center. The Wardogs continued to play there until building their new gymnasium a few years ago. In later years, the Civic Center Gymnasium became known as the “Dogdome”.

We all have memories and stories from the Civic Center, and I have many. But one of the best I ever heard was a story told to me by a now deceased friend of mine, who was a member of the MHS basketball team in the mid 1960’s. He stated that one day during a team practice at the Civic Center a nicely dressed gentleman, wearing a black top coat and black cowboy boots came walking through the door and across the gym floor. The MHS coaching staff seeing this, hollered for the man to get off the court with his street shoes on. My friend stated that the nicely dressed gentleman apologized, quickly got off the court, and stated that his name was John Hadl and he was there on a football recruiting trip. Well, for those of you who don’t know who John Hadl is, at that time, he was the current All-Pro Quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, and a former All-American at the University of Kansas, who had summoned him to come to Miami to try and recruit one of our local athletes. Back in that time, as with today, it was uncommon to see a famous professional athlete strolling around Miami, Oklahoma, so needless to say, this was kind of a Big Deal!

During the 1960’s the Civic Center was host to most of the NEO Basketball Tournament Championship games on Saturday night of the NEO Tournament. My Grandparents, who lived in Centralia, would always come to Miami on Saturday morning, and I would load up and go with my Grandpa to the Civic Center to watch games in the afternoon session, and then we would go back for the night session. Sometimes we would have a houseful of relatives coming to town to watch the games and my mother would feed all of them in between the game sessions. I can remember on those cold January days that she would always make a large pot of Chili, along with a large pot of Stew to feed them.

Back then and still today, making pots of soup is one of the easiest ways to feed a crowd, and I like to make many different types of soups for myself, as well as feeding others during the cold months. I make everything from Soups, Stews, Chowders, to just plain ole Potato Soup, but every now and then, I like something a little different that is also quick and easy, and that is what I’m sharing today. It is a simple recipe I found online a few years ago that I make periodically, and it is a VERY tasty soup.

Cheesy Taco Soup

Ingredients

1lb lean ground beef 2 Tablespoons butter 2 Tablespoons flour 2-1/2 cups milk, divided salt & pepper 1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping 1 package taco seasoning 10 oz can mild Rotel, undrained 15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed Crushed tortilla chips

Directions

Brown ground beef in a large soup pot over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper, until no longer pink. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then whisk in flour and cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk, season with salt and pepper, then switch to a wooden spoon and stir mixture until thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat then stir in shredded cheese until smooth. Set aside.

Add taco seasoning, rotel, black beans, cheese sauce, and remaining 1-1/2 cups milk into cooked ground beef then stir well to combine. Bring to a heavy simmer then turn heat down to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with crushed tortilla chips and more shredded cheese, if desired.