Cheese to the Rescue!

Soup comforts on a cold winter day

January feels like six weeks to me, so by February I have had enough of winter. I am chilled to the bone, which in some way explains my interest in soup making—a skill I have challenged myself to learn. As I experiment I seek out more recipes to test and methods to master.

The cheddar cheese soup is a good example of a recipe I refined for flavor, while making it healthier at the same time. How comforting it is to come home on an icy evening to a hearty soup that takes the cold of winter away. 

RECIPE: Cheddar Cheese Soup

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 cups half and half (I used fat-free)
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (about 10 ounces)—use either medium or sharp
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in flour, paprika and cayenne pepper and stir 3 minutes. Gradually stir in broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Puree. Add half and half to soup and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cheese half a cup at a time, stirring until cheese melts after each addition. Mix in Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Nancy Lynch, a self-taught cook from a family of foodies, teaches cooking classes at Orange Tree Imports and All Through the House. diningin@madisonmagazine.com

Find more Dining In recipes here.

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