A Souper Bowl

12 Feb

As it hasn’t been mentioned in awhile I thought now might be a good time to remind you that The Boy has a major cheese addiction. It’s been kept in check to one degree or another for the past couple of months.

But you should be able to tell just from the very fact that I’ve typed this intro, that the cheese addiction spun wildly out of control recently. And I do mean wildly.

LBJ

On our very first day as true Brooklynites we decided to partake in one of the very most Brooklyn of activities (that is, if you’re a Brooklynite of a certain age and social status). We drove our (rented) SUV to Red Hook and went to Fairway. We had both been to the Fairway uptown and felt kinda, eh, about it, but for some reason this time we went bonkers.

Cheese! Olives! Chocolate! Tea! Pasta! Honey! All at such fabulous prices! The magic of Fairway whipped us into some kind of grocery shopping frenzy. It was madness.

And so, after our first dinner in our new place, the spectre of the half-eaten nubs of imported cheeses, languishing in the chill of the refrigerator, haunted me for the rest of the week. What should I do with them?

It’s a question I’ve had to ask myself many, many times in the past year. Some of my solutions have included:

Pillows Of Love Pillows Of Love 1 and Pillows Of Love 2 Pillows Of Love 2

The most delicious pizza.

The most decadent cauliflower ever.

More cauliflower (this time with peas and pasta).

Roasted Vege Mac & Cheese And another time, there was even leftover Mac & Cheese that needed to be dealt with.

And so, with all these meals, and others I’ve never blogged at the back of my mind, I knew I had to go in another direction. No baking, no pasta. Something truly radical… Something suitable for Super Bowl Sunday. Something, like say, Beer & Cheese soup? Yep, something just like Beer & Cheese soup.

Beer & Cheese Soup

I’ve long heard tales of this soup from friends that grew up in the Midwest. For them it was an adult treat, laced with booze and oozy with cheese, much like fondue was for me as a child. There was something illicit, grown-up and slightly foregin about it. So, off to the Internet I went looking for a recipe for this creamy elixir, and what did I find? None other than my patron saint of geeky cooking had tackled this very dish, the always amazing, Alton Brown.

Okay, okay, yes you’re right, there’s no beer in Alton’s soup, but I’m guessing that’s just because the FN wouldn’t let him because they’re a family network, but whatever… I “know” AB well enough to know that there’s supposed to be beer in this dish, so I extrapolated and revised and, well, I added some beer!

We had three kinds of cheese sitting around. The one we had the most of was called kashkaval. From what I’ve read it’s a sheep’s milk cheese from Bulgaria, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia or even Greece. Some people say it’s the Balkans’ answer to cheddar, others provolone. Me? The stuff we got hit me as a cross between mozzarella and haloumi, two of my favorite cheeses. The other two remnants were a hard cheese from Spain and a semi-hard cheese from Sardegna, neither of which I can remember the names of. They all melted really nicely into the soup, only needing a wee bit of extra help from the immersion blender.

The Boy found the soup to be extraordinary, I found that I had added too much dried mustard and that it tasted slightly bitter to me. Ah, tastebuds… Everyone’s different! So, if you too decide to go a little lowbrow and make this delicious, warming, wintry soup, heed my advice and do go easy on the mustard!

Head below the jump for the recipe for Super Bowl Beer & Cheese Soup.

Beer & Cheese Soup

prep time: 30 minutes ~ cooking time: 1 hour

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Parsnips peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 stalk Celery, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, smashed
  • 3 tea spoons (actual spoons, not measuring spoons) Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Colman’s Dry Mustard
  • Cayenne Pepper, to taste
  • Pimenton de la Vera, to taste
  • Worcestershire Sauce, a healthy dash
  • Mushroom Puree (the one I used, Vavel, I found at a Polish grocery, but a scoop of Better Than Bullion would be okay, or just add some mushroom stems to the broth with the vegetables)
  • 2 bottles of Beer (something with heft, not Guinness heft, but heft nonetheless)
  • Chicken Stock (one of those 32 oz boxes)
  • Cheese, whatever is on hand, about 1/2 – 1 lb.
  • 1 head Cauliflower

Set a large stock pot over a medium flame. Add a glug of olive oil and cook the onions, parsnips celery and garlic until softened. The parsnips should be beginning to loose their shape a little. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes, around 3. Add he mustard, cayenne and Pimenton de la Vera. Stir to coat. Add the Worcestershire, mushroom puree and beer. When the foaming has subsided, add the stock.

Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and partially cover. Allow to cook until the vegetable are very tender, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into small florets, wash and steam until tender. Drain, and shock with cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

Grate the cheese and set aside.

When the vegetables are soft, turn off the heat Purée the soup with your immersion blender, or carefully in small batches in a Cuisinart or blender (if you do this, return the soup to the stock pot when done). Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Does it need more salt? Some pepper? More Worcestershire? More cayenne? Remember, you’re about to add a lot of creamy cheese, so if it tastes kind of “spiky” add the cheese and taste again.

Carefully add the cheese in handfuls, stirring to incorporate each handful. If when you’re done the soup looks a little lumpy, give it another spin with your immersion blender. Scoop into bowls and serve with a hunk of very crusty bread. Enjoy!

6 Responses to “A Souper Bowl”

  1. jenblossom February 12, 2007 at 10:27 am #

    Beer and cheese soup is one of the best things ever. I recently made one with Bobolink cave-aged cheddar and Brooklyn Brown ale. I like your idea of adding mushroom puree and cauliflower – I bet it added some nice depth and texture to the soup.

  2. Tim at take3eggs.com February 13, 2007 at 3:30 am #

    hey just quietly if all he is addicted to is cheese, count yourself truely blessed. especially if it means that there is a hefty stash of ‘left over’ bits of cheese in the fridge that you can turn into what looks and sounds like a tasty soup. there are not a lot of addictions that you can do that with…

  3. sher February 13, 2007 at 11:54 am #

    Oh yeah!! I’m with the boy! I love cheese more than ice cream. And beer and cheese soup is fabulous!!!! Your recipe is perfect!

  4. Virginia February 14, 2007 at 9:39 am #

    There’s a Sicilian cheese called cacciocavallo that sounds very similar to kashkaval. It’s also a sheep’s milk cheese. My brother-in-law usually has it in his store. I, meanwhile, have to track down some pimenton de la vera–it seems to be one of your favorite recipe additions!

  5. ann February 14, 2007 at 10:46 pm #

    jenblossom — it really did! I just wish I hadn’t added too much dried mustard… oh well, chalk it up to a learning curve! I love the idea of making it with that cheddar, I’ve had that stuff before and it’s INSANE.

    Tim — well said!

    Sher — thanks :-)

    Virgina — you get me some of that cheese and I’ll hand deliver you some pimenton de la vera… I’m sure you’d like it, not so sure about the boys, but they might come around in the end!

  6. lobstersquad February 15, 2007 at 6:30 am #

    that´s interesting. I always think guiness is so strong it tastes almost like soup. so this would be that, but for real. must try. José has a terrible cheese addiction, too.

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