Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cheese Soup

I love cheese soup. The best cheese soup I've ever had was made at a small restaurant near my hometown (Pot West for those that know). Sadly, it closed years ago (replaced by an uber-cool organic restaurant I love!). They had the best soup ever and I am on a mission to replicate it. I have not gotten the exact taste right, but it's close. Really, really close.

Cheese Soup
6 Tablespoons butter (or make bacon and use that grease. Add bacon in later)
Diced onions (to taste. I used about 1/4 cup, but up to 1 cup would be good)
Diced carrots (as much or little as you want, but around 1 cup)
Diced celery (I didn't have any so I didn't use it, but will next time)
Diced peppers (optional. I used green ones instead of celery)
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
8 ounces cheddar cheese (or any kind, I suppose)
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Optional seasonings:
Red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper

Optional Mix ins:

Melt butter in at least a 4 quart pot. Sautee veggies (carrots, onions, celery, etc) until soft but not browned, about 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes (you are making a roux). Slowly whisk in the chicken stock, a little at a time being careful not to get any lumps. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to thicken. I covered mine, but left the cover ajar to vent.

Once the soup is thick you can puree or not. Some recipes call for it, others don't. I don't mind the chunks of veggies in mine so I opted not to (plus I don't have an immersion blender and didn't want the mess of doing batches in the blender).

Stir in cream, cheese and mustard. REDUCE HEAT IMMEDIATELY! DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL OR CHEESE WILL FALL APART! You've been warned. This was my mistake the first time I made it.

Season as you desire. I found that the soup really needed a touch of wine (we didn't have beer). I just dumped a splash (maybe 1/4 cup) in at the end. I thought the Worcestershire would be a necessity, but I don't think it is. I also added chopped ham and broccoli (the frozen variety, warmed in the microwave first).

This was even better the next day as left overs and I am beyond thrilled to have a Cheese Soup recipe at long last!

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