When you live in the country — even though I actually live in town, it is still like being in the country — you learn to keep a ready stocked pantry. Staples are kept up to date, the freezer is full, and favorites are always on hand. I keep a list in my kitchen of things in which we are running low or out.

One thing I always have is a box of Lipton onion soup mix. That is a go-to for a dip, vegetable fix or to help with meat dishes. One of my fondest childhood memories is of my mama mixing a packet of the soup mix with sour cream and serving the dip with Ruffles potato chips. She would prepare this for company or for me to take to a school party. It was also a staple when I had spend-the-night parties. Even though I now have about a million dip recipes, this is still one of my favorites. I think it may be the way food can often evoke past memories.

Lipton onion soup mix came on the market in 1952. More women were entering the workforce outside of the home. Convenience foods and canned goods were being relied on more to help cut down food preparation time. In 1954, an unknown cook in Los Angeles came up with the famous dip recipe. It was promoted on television (“The Arthur Godfrey Show”) and in supermarkets. Its popularity convinced the company to print the recipe on the box, where it still remains. One packet of mix and 16 ounces of sour cream — you can’t get much easier than that.

I don’t really know of anyone who has actually used the mix to prepare French onion soup, which my husband and I love, but it really comes in handy in the kitchen. Here are some ways to use it:

• Mix one packet in 2 pounds of hamburger meat, and add ½ cup water for a delicious burger.

• Cut four potatoes (about 2 pounds) into large chunks, and mix in one envelope of onion soup mix and 1/3 cup olive oil. Stir and bake in a baking dish at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I recently found a recipe for making your own onion soup mix. Keep in mind I haven’t tried this, but here it is if you feel so inclined:

¾ cup dried minced onion flakes

1/3 cup beef bouillon granules

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon celery seeds (break up with back of knife)

¼ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon paprika

Mix all ingredients, and sort in ZipLoc bags or small jars. Store in a cool, dark place. A quarter of a cup of the mixture equals a packet of the mix.

Here are some easy main meal dishes using Lipton onion soup mix. I hope you will give them a try. Thanks for reading.

FOUR INGREDIENT CHICKEN & RICE CASSEROLE

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup white rice, uncooked

1½ cups water

1 package Lipton onion soup mix

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with Pam. Place chicken breasts in dish, and salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine rice, water, soup mix and can of soup. Pour over chicken. Cover and bake for an hour and 15 minutes or until rice is tender.

LIPTON ONION SOUP MEAT LOAF

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 packet Lipton onion soup mix

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup ketchup

¾ cup water

1½ cups breadcrumbs

Mix eggs, soup mix, ketchup and water until combined. Add ground beef and bread crumbs. Form into a loaf. Place in a baking dish that has been lined with foil. Bake for an hour and 15 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

LIPTON ONION SOUP POT ROAST

(This became popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It is still a great meal today. By using your Crock-Pot, there is little preparation, but it’s still delicious!)

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 packet Lipton onion soup mix (You may also use Lipton beefy onion mix.)

1¼ cups water

5-pound pot roast

Place pot roast in Crock-Pot. Mix remaining ingredients, and pour over roast. Cook for three to four hours on high or eight to nine hours on low. This makes a delicious gravy for rice or mashed potatoes.

• Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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