Saturday, February 5, 2011

Savory Cheddar Cheese Soup

You know that your life has changed when you start making your lunch and dinner at 6:30 in the morning. I never used to be anywhere near out of bed at that time on a weekend. I remember rolling out of bed at 9:30 or 10 and heading straight to the gym, not getting home until past noon. Gone are those days... :) Since having Logan, I find that early mornings are the best shot of me getting anything done in my day. He's happy to sit in his high chair and play on his own for awhile while I whip up some meals.

I've been on a bit of a huge soup kick lately. This inevitably happens every winter. I've been making some of my tried and true favourites, that are already on my blog, such as my Chicken Coconut Curry Soup, Red Lentil and Carrot Soup and French Onion Soup. I've also tried a few new soups, but none of them have been blog-worthy so far. Though I still have a whole bunch that I'll try before the end of winter. Luckily, Jerome is yet to be sick of eating soups either, so I can keep working my way through my cookbooks.

This recipe comes from the cookbook The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes. I used to make it all the time when we used to regularly go night skiing (before I hurt my tailbone). I'd throw this into the slow cooker and we'd get in late in the evening to a hot home-cooked meal. Although this recipe used to be one of my regulars, I haven't made it for a few years. The first thing Jerome said after tasting it today was that it tastes like French onion soup. Which made me laugh, because that's what I had made for supper tonight. I guess it's because both this recipe and my mom's French onion soup (which is DELICIOUS!) both use consommé.

I prefer to purée the recipe, but Jerome prefers to leave it as is, so that's what we did this time. I didn't bother taking a picture as the soup doesn't actually look very appetizing (though it is tasty). The cheese doesn't melt super well and ends up in little chunks throughout the soup. It's probably not something I would serve to guests, as it doesn't look pretty enough, but it's great for a meal at home.

1 tbsp. butter
1 leek, white part with just a bit of green, cleaned and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, peeled and finely chopped (I didn't bother peeling them)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat)
2 cans condensed beef consommé soup (undiluted)
3 C water
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 C whipping cream (I used 1% milk)
3 C shredded Cheddar cheese (I used low-fat)
hot pepper sauce to taste (optional) (shoot... I forgot to add this in)

1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks, carrots and celery. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Add dry mustard, salt, pepper and flour to pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add consommé, water, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaf and cook until slightly thickened.

2. Transfer mixture to slow cooker stoneware. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours. Discard bay leaf. If desired, transfer solids plus 1 cup liquid to a food processor and process until smoother, then return mixture to slow cooker.

3. Add cream and cheese, cover and cook on High for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbling.

Serves 4 to 6 as a meal or 8 as a starter.

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