When I made cheddar cheese soup a couple of months ago, I had a hard time choosing between two recipes. I went with the classic "best ever" cheese soup recipe from Cook's Illustrated rather than the super simple variation from Everyday With Rachael Ray. To treat myself for Valentine's Day I decided to give the other recipe a try. Good thing I did because I prefer this velvety version! Flavored with leeks instead of celery and beer instead of sherry, this soup has a wonderful cheesy taste. Mustard adds depth and its slight tang offsets the beer. For garnish I made heart-shaped croutons! To see how I made this soup, read more.
5 tbsp. butter
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
One 12-ounce bottle amber beer, such as Dos Equis*
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)
Croutons, for garnish
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the carrots and leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 10 minutes.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, add the beer and mustard and bring the soup to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking, until creamy and thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the cheese 1 handful at a time until combined.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the croutons.
*I couldn't find Dos Equis so I used Pacifico.
From Inger Bareilles
7 slices thick white bread, crusts removed
2 tbsp. melted butter
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Slice the bread into small cubes, about half-an-inch by half-an-inch.
- In a large bowl toss the bread cubes with the butter, oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat all of the bread pieces.
- Spread out on a baking sheet covered with foil.
- Bake in the oven, checking often for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove and let cool 5 minutes. Serve in a bowl alongside the cheddar cheese soup.