Monday, February 27, 2012

ATK Cheddar Cheese, Beer, & Potato Soup

NOTES:

1. From Cook's Illustrated's Soups & Stews.

2.  To reheat:  Reheat in a saucepan over low heat, whisking frequently to prevent the soup from separating and curdling.  Avoid heating it beyond a bare simmer!

3.  For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

4.  The sherry, cheese, thyme, and pepper are used late in the recipe.

5.  Use a Dutch oven.  A stockpot is much too big.

6.  Based on ATK's Cheddar Cheese Soup.

7.  Use an inexpensive, light-colored beer/ale.

8. Adding a pad of butter to each serving helps with flavor.

9. The 1/4" cubes of potatoes aren't chunky enough for Liz when she made this in May 2013.  If using larger cubes of potatoes, consider boiling the diced potatoes ahead of time.

10. Liz wants to compare this recipe to Jeanne's/Laurel Kitchen's Potato Cheese Soup to find out why this one is so different--not nearly as hearty.  (Maybe double the cheese here? or use bacon bits to boost flavor?)


INGREDIENTS:

3 Tbl unsalted butter
1 med onion
1 small shallot
1 med Yukon Gold potato
1 med carrot
1 small stalk celery
1 med clove garlic
2 Tbl flour
1-1/2 cups light ale
1-1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
2-1/2 cups Half-and-half
1 bay leaf
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tbl dry sherry
12 oz sharp white cheddar cheese (about 3 cups shredded)
1 Tbl fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
Pepper


PREPARATION:

NOTE: If using potatoes that are cut into chunks larger than 1/4-inch, cook them ahead of time and then set aside.

1.  Shred the cheese (fine or medium) and set aside, covering with a moist paper towel.  Set aside.

2.  Mince and combine the onion and shallot.  Set aside.

3.  Mince and combine the celery, carrot, and garlic.  Peel the potato and dice into 1/4 inch cubes.  Set aside.

4.  In a Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat until foaming.

5.  Add the onion and shallot, stirring occasionally until softened, about 4 minutes.

6.  Add the carrot, celery, potatoes (if small chunks) and garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute.

7.  Add the flour, stirring to coat the vegetables, until the mixture begins to brown on the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.

8.  Gradually whisk in the ale, stock, and half-and-half.

9.  Add the bay leaf (and the larger chunks of potatoes). Increase heat to medium-high.

10.  When the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer about 3 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.

11.  Remove the pan from heat.  Stir in the sherry and cayenne, then let rest for 2 minutes.

12.  Slowly whisk in the cheese and thyme until the cheese melts.

13.  Season with pepper--it may not need salt because of the cheese--and serve immediately.

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