03 February 2012

Trip to the Cheddarful

It’s most definitely soup season. This isn’t a calendar season, it’s a time of  year defined by damp shoes, dogs that occasionally don’t want to go for walks (usually the highlight of their day) and the craving of carbohydrates. On nights when I cook something other than pasta-centric dishes and lay off the mashed potatoes, my kitchen is home to pots of lentils, split peas, winter minestrone (chard & kale taking the place of summery veg), curried carrots, and when time allows French Onion.

All this one pot cooking reminds me of my youth somehow. Why somehow? Because as a child soup was far more likely to come out of a can than a ladle but funny how time makes one nostalgic for things that never happened – And since I’m brimming with nostalgia, I am reminded of all my years living in the shadow of the Great Lakes. Like the good Midwesterner, I was raised to be, I’m always looking for ways to add cheddar cheese to things.

Potato Cheddar Soup

3 large russet potatoes – peeled & quartered

5 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 thinly sliced onion, sauteed in a tablespoon of butter until the onion turns beautifully brown.

Salt and Pepper

Directions – Place onion and butter in small saute pan and cook on low. Add potatoes to stock and cook until they are soft. Remove pot from heat, add salt, pepper, and onion, then puree. Sorry Luddites, this works best with an immersion blender, or second choice – a food processor. When potatoes are pureed, return to low heat and add…

8-12 ounces of grated cheddar cheese.

Stir until cheese melts.

Optional ingredients: all soup recipes are guidelines, not commandments. All you really need for the ingredients above is a good bread to turn this into a filling winter meal, it’s like a grilled cheese you can eat with a spoon. But I would be build out the flavor – the combination of cheese and potato is both classic and a bit subdued. A little hot sauce, a dash of Worcestershire, a tablespoon of dry mustard, a mega-heaping tablespoon of prepared mustard, half a beer – either Black Butte Porter or Bridgeport’s IPA adds a hoppy goodness and with half a beer for the soup, this brilliantly leaves half a beer for the cook. A cup of cream or half & half, adds richness. Chopped ham or diced bacon will send you off in a whole different direction. Diced chives, croutons especially rye croutons are winners for this soup. Think of all the wonderful things that go with cheddar and you can add it to your soup.