Deconstructed Cheddar Soup

December 18,2008
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Is there anything like a bowl of warm soup on a cold (nearly) winter's day?  I love the simplicity of having a hearty meal in one bowl, perfected by some crusty bread to dip in it.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup is a favorite of mine, but usually it's richness comes from lots of extra, not-so-healthy ingredients and calories.

This soup recipe is full of vegetables, much lighter than a typical cheese soup and serves as a terrific base for adding all sorts of good things.

It is also kid-friendly, as the base of the soup can serve as the launch pad for adding whatever things you think your family will enjoy. In our family, we add steamed broccoli, whole wheat croutons and perhaps some crab. Other suggestions that are just as tasty include steamed asparagus pieces, sauteed mushroom slices, steamed cauliflower, and cooked pieces of chicken, pork or seafood.

See why I call it "deconstructed"?  The beautiful versatility and ease of making this soup has made it a mainstay in our family.

Deconstructed Cheddar Soup

1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil
2 carrot sticks, peeled
2 celery ribs
1 large onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine (or use an additional cup of chicken broth)
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional -- it's for color)
2 cups shredded cheddar
4 oz light cream cheese

In a food processor, process the carrot, celery, and onion until they look like this:

(or process until they are well enough hidden for your family's tastes).

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrot mixture, and saute for about 5-6 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir well, coating the vegetables. Add the broth and wine, stirring well with a wisk to combine. Continue cooking and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.

Add the milk, paprika and turmeric (if using) and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes, to allow the mixture to continue to thicken.

Remove from the heat and immediately add the cheeses. Stir well to ensure full melting of the cheese.

Add broccoli, croutons, crab, or whatever you like!

SPC