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Friday, November 16, 2012

English Country Cheddar Soup

 English Country Cheddar Soup

English Country Cheddar Soup
by Victoria Challancin

I try to be good.  I really do.  I try to be healthy as well, but every now and then a half a cup of cream and a couple of cups of good cheese just sneak their way into my life and my recipes.  And sometimes, as with this soup, I am just so happy they did.  My, my, my, this is one delicious bowl of richness.  Even the Mexican cooks in my class, who often don't really like food cooked with wine, loved this soup.

Cheddar Cheese:  A Bit of History
Unless colored by such agents as anatto seeds, cheddar is a pale yellow to off-white relatively hard cheese, which originally came from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England.  Accounting for 51% of the UK's cheese market, cheddar is an incredibly popular cheese.  Even in the US it retains its popularity, second only to mozzarella.

The village of Cheddar contains a number of caves which provided the ideal humidity and constant temperature for maturing cheese.  Having been produced since at least the 12th century, this cheese is thought to have been developed from a recipe brought to Britain by the Romans from the Cantal region of France.
 English Country Cheddar Soup in one of my Mom's Wedgwood bowls--even better

Cook's Notes:  Use only a top quality sharp cheddar cheese, preferable white.  I also made a rich homemade chicken broth, which only added to the taste of this soup, though I imagine a good quality purchased broth would work fine.
Recipe:  English Country Cheddar Soup

Note:  To avoid the soup "breaking," whisk constantly and don't let it come to a full boil when reheating.

1/4 cup butter or chicken fat
1/2 cup flour
27 ounces chicken broth
2 carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped leeks
1 cup white wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups good quality grated sharp cheddar cheese
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
Chopped chives, for garnish

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat chicken fat or butter until melted, then add onion and leek.  Sweat until tender, then sprinkle in flour and stir well to incorporate.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then which in broth and wine until smooth.  Add carrots, then bring to a boil and simmer 15-20 minutes, until soup thickens.

Remove from heat and stir in cheddar, Worcestershire, cayenne, and salt.  Stir in cream.  Heat until just hot, taking care not to boil, which could break the soup.  Serve with chives for garnish.

The makings of my friend Pat's salsa roasting on a comal:  tomatillos, a couple cloves of garlicserrano and jalapeño chiles, red and orange bell peppers.  The cilantro is waiting in the blender just behind. 
Recipe for a Salsa
Not only are my dear friends Pat and Berit fabulous jewelers, they are fantastic, innovative cooks as well. This salsa, while not specifically Mexican (Mexicans wouldn't normally use bell peppers), is terrific.  And as vegetarians, they use this with all manner of vegetarian dishes.  It is particularly good with the homemade crackers they make using all raw organic ingredients, such as flax seeds and peppers.

To  make this versatile salsa, simply roast these ingredients in an aluminum foil-lined skillet or a Mexican comal until slightly charred in places.  Plop it all in a blender with some fresh cilantro, season with salt, and purée to desired consistency, smooth or chunky.  Easy.  Delicious.

Parting Shot:  
Flores de Hojas de Tamal--flowers made from dried corn husks

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Like life, recipes are meant to be shared, but please ask permission before using photos or text.  Thanks!


Eha said...

Thank you for the comments on cheddar: In Australia so many cheeses go under specific names these days, it is sometimes hard to know what ther 'really' are. Interesting about mozarella being so popular in the US: here haloumi and fetta seem to be in every second recipe or almost every menu! The soup seems awfully moreish . . .and I tend to be boringly good - but I can just smell and taste that one! Hmm, the soup may just win out :) !

Hotly Spiced said...

I think a meal like this is fine every now and then although I have to say, I don't think I've ever had a cheese soup! Love the look of the salsa ingredients. Are those purple goodies tomatoes or tiny eggplants? If they're tomatoes I don't think I've seen that variety before xx

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

Eha--I miss haloumi cheese so much I can't tell you...

Charlie--Those purple "fruits" are actually tomatillos, often called green tomatoes though they are in the gooseberry or Chinese lattern family.

Not Quite Nigella said...

LOL Victoria, I just loved your opening paragraphs. I think you definitely speak for me in that respect! :P

chow and chatter said...

this looks divine and what a great educational post

Nancy said...

I never knew it was annato that gave cheddar the orange color. Cheddar was not a cheese eaten by the locals but a few months ago I started seeing a white local cheddar pop up. Now I know I have to try it. The soup sounds yummy and worth the naughty calories:)

Your comment made me smile today, thank you. said...

I always say that coming to your blog there is always a lesson to be learned. The soup is really full of flavor.

Amanda said...

ohhhh yum! i love soup! especially cheesey ones!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Your cheese soup looks delicious...not too thick like so many people make. It is especially nice in your mother's beautiful bowl.