Cheddar Soup. What comes to mind is something thick and heavy, like a bowl of fondue. Delicious, perhaps, but not exactly the kind of post-holiday light meal I had in mind. English cheddar soup, though, is actually remarkably light. It relies on a very sharp, very good cheddar cheese, which means you don't need much of it. (The quality of the cheese makes the soup, so be sure to get something great.) This recipe came with high recommendations, adapted from a California restaurant chain called Salmagundi that opened in the 70s.
Onions and leeks provide the base. They're sweated in butter (or 1/4 cup of chicken fat—apparently no one batted an eye in the 70s), then covered with flour to create a roux. This provides the majority of the thickening power for the chicken broth and white wine. Once the cheddar is whisked in off the heat, and the whole thing is seasoned with cayenne and Worcestershire, and a touch of cream is the final flourish.
My soup broke when I reheated it the next day (and took the photo above). To avoid this, make sure to 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
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- chopped chives, for garnish
In 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 3-4 minutes, then whisk 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.