Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cheese and Potato Soup

So, for the first time today, I doctored a recipe until it achieved perfection.  Or, at least, perfection according to my taste buds.  I figured I should share it with everyone.  Especially since it's a nice warm soup, perfect for winter.

I made it in the crockpot because I was going to be gone for the better part of the day, but I'll put the directions for stovetop first and then put a note as to what to alter if you're going to use a crockpot.


Cheese and Potato Soup


2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped carrot
1/2 c. chopped onion
1-2 tsp. dried thyme
2 c. canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 c. milk
1 large russet potato (10-12 oz), peeled and cut into medium chunks.
Parsley (chopped or dried, to taste)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1 8 oz pkg of shredded, sharp cheddar cheese
Tabasco sauce (or similar)


Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat.  Add celery, carrot, onion and 1 tsp of the thyme and saute until the veggies start to get just a little soft - no more than 5 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir for 2 minutes.  Gradually stir in the broth, then the milk.  Add the potato and bring the whole thing to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the potato is tender - this will depend on how big your chunks are.  Basically, don't cook it until the potatoes are mushy, you want them to be cooked through, but still pretty firm.  Check by getting a chunk out, if you can cut through it with a fork pretty easily, then it's ready.

Now add the rest of the thyme, sprinkle in a little parsley, and stir.  Add the garlic and stir again.  Now start adding the cheese VERY SLOWLY, otherwise you get big gobs of unmelted cheese.  Best method I found was to sprinkle it on top until it just starts to cover the surface, then stir it in until it's melted, and repeat.  Stop when you've added about 3/4 of the package and taste.  It should be pretty cheesy by this point, but if you think you want more cheese then go ahead and add the rest of the package.  Now add the Tabasco, as much or as little as you want.  For it to be really good you have to add at least a LITTLE Tabasco, it gives it a nice subtle spiciness.  Salt and pepper to taste.

FOR CROCKPOT:  Set the crockpot on low.  In a large frying pan, prepare the celery, carrot, onion, and first tsp of thyme as described above.  After you've stirred the flour around on the veggies, plop it all in the crockpot and add the milk, chicken broth, and potato.  Let it all sit on low for the day (I was gone for 7 hours and the potatoes were perfect when I got back, but because it was on low I don't think another hour or two would have ruined them).  When the potatoes are ready, add the rest of the thyme, the parsley, and the garlic, stir, then add the cheese as described above.  I found that switching it to high as soon as the potatoes are ready, i.e. before the thyme and garlic and stuff, helped with the cheese melting process.  Finish with the Tabasco, salt, and pepper.  Voila!


If you're curious, the original recipe had less thyme, no garlic, and the parsley was just a garnish at the end.  Oh, and it had ham, but I don't like ham.  I suppose I could have added some other meat, but I didn't feel like it.  If you do like ham and want to add it, put in 1/2 a cup after the cheese is melted.  =)

Follow with a nice cannoli from Mike's Pastry.  Okay, so most of you aren't in Boston, so I guess this isn't a requirement, but that's what I did!  =P
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Jenn said...

Oh you people and your delicious soup recipes I am going to be warm and full all winter long :) This looks awesome! I am not a fan of ham in soup but I think a little bacon would do just the trick. Of course then I would probably skip the Tobasco and use something else, like a spicy Monteray (sp?) Jack instead. Smoother cheese but still with a kick. Oh so glad we are grocery shopping today, my list is growing lol.

KC McAuley said...

I've used a little cooked chicken before and it works too. I like your additions and will have to add them next time I make it. I like this soup because it's one that doesn't have to simmer away for hours on the stovetop.

Jenn - do try some other cheeses and let us know the results. I always use extra sharp cheddar because I love it.

Bridgete said...

Hmm, Monterey Jack sounds like it would be good! Definitely let me know how that turns out!

Glad you like my additions, Mom! =)

ginger said...

soup is my favorite type of food and i can sooooo veganize this! it sounds so yummy, yay!

when i try it i'll let you know. thanks!

Bree said...

Jenn, you read my mind. Pepper Jack makes everything perfect! :D

I'll add this to the list of potato soup varieties...what can I say? We've got a lot of spuds out here in the Gem state. ;)

Bridgete said...

Ginger, I figured you'd like this and could easily veganize it. Even I could see how easy it would be. =)

Bree, I'm glad this makes the cut for potato soup recipes...I'm sure you have many! =)