Friday, January 21, 2011
so what do you do when you've had a rough week, you've got 20 some odd inches of snow on the ground with 7 more falling, and you don't have the cash on hand to escape to some exotic local? well, um, if you're anything like me, you might do a bit of CARBO-LOADING! yes, the caps are necessary today and yes, something along the lines of carbs! salty! chrunchy! cheesy! goodness! in my belly! sounds like just the thing right about now (me, an emotional eater? bah, what is this you speak of?!)
we made this wonderful cheddar ale soup recently, compliments of williams-sonoma, and it really hit the spot. as usual, i changed a couple things so i will just list them below in italics (the rest being the original recipe, slightly paraphrased in kat-speak).
Cheddar Ale Soup
1 bacon slice per bowl/person (we usually go with low-sodium but turkey bacon would be a great healthy alternative too of course. or, just leave out and wah-lah: vegetarian friendly.)
2 TBLS unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour if you like)
1 cup pale ale
(make sure it's one you really like as the taste comes though quite strongly and i made the mistake of just using whatever we had in the fridge...oops)
1 TBLS worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
(you can use stock too, i had some homemade turkey stock i'd frozon from thanksgiving and it really gives it a great depth of flavor! substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian version.)
1 1/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
(we used a combination of inexpensive sharp cheddar from the grocery store and some gourmet vermont cheddar....holy awesomeness batman!)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
in a 4 1/2 quart dutch oven (um, yeah i wish i had one of those..my stock pot sufficed) over medium-high heat (bacon is crispier if cooked on lower heat, i usually go with medium), cook the bacon until crisp and then transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain while you move onto other things.
discard all but 2 TBLS of the fat in the pot (that's about all i had actually). reduce heat to medium and melt butter. add the onion, carrots, and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 20 mintes (20 minutes was too much for mine as they got a little black despite stirring. all stoves are calibrated differently so just keep a careful eye out).
add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes.
add the ale and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.
add worcestershire, milk, and stock, increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-12 minutes. remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth (yes, that would have come in handy but no immersion blender here. i pureed the soup in my regular old blender once it had cooled a bit but it was so full that it was difficult to keep the lid on. next time i will just use the food processor like a smart person).
return soup to pot on medium-low heat and add cheese by the handful, stirring constantly; do not allow the soup to boil. season with salt and pepper to taste and then ladle into bowls. top of with the crumbled bacon and, instead of croutons, serve with large hunks of freshly baked bread to rip off and dunk in your soup! i'm thinking a bread bowl might not be a bad idea next time...
1 part Masterpiece Theatre's Downton Abbey on PBS
1 grandma's quilt
2 sleeping cats curled up around you
=start feeling like maybe the world is not half as rotton as it felt the day before!
edit: i was just reading that tomorrow (January 22, 2011) is National Soup Swap Day...what a neat idea to try sometime or anytime during the colder months! i'm sure you could even work in a charitable component...hmm, must let this one simmer in m' brain for a bit!