Have you ever pondered the curative powers of soup? No? Well, let’s take a minute to think about it. Somehow, a steaming bowl of soup can heal you, revive you, lift your spirits and get you going again. It is truly amazing. I suppose, in most cases, it’s some combination of willpower and placebo. Perhaps soup is nothing more and, more important, nothing less than the power of positive thinking in a bowl.
Think about it for a minute. Somehow or other, no matter what ails you; soup is the answer. Okay, maybe not every time but often enough …
Head cold? Slurp down a bowl of chicken soup, breathe in the steam and let it clear those sinuses. Then, take two aspirins and go to bed early. You’ll be almost good-as-new in the morning.
Heartbroken? Forget the ice cream. Stir up some tomato soup and maybe add a grilled cheese sandwich. These elementary school favorites will take you back to simpler times. You remember; when boys (or girls) had cooties. You might not be fully recovered by the next day but you’ll be on your way.
Your favorite little black dress just a tad too tight? Whip up a batch of healthy, hearty vegetable soup. It will fill you up without a lot of empty calories. Add a daily walk or a gym workout and you’ll be svelte again in no time.
Stuck inside on a rainy day? Break out the roasting pan and soup kettle and make a batch of butternut squash soup. Think big. You’ll want to enjoy some now and freeze a gallon or two for later. Boredom and your Thanksgiving appetizer dilemma are solved!
Depressed about the rapidly approaching, very long New Hampshire winter? Sink your spoon into a bowl of hearty chowder. Any chowder will do – fish, lobster or corn. A good chowder will warm you up and, at least at my house, stir up a few wonderful memories of Nana Nye.
Even more depressed about the increasingly negative tone of the election? That could be a tough one. I’m not sure if there is a soup powerful enough to ward off that kind of funk. Perhaps you should fight fire with a fire. A spicy Thai curry might do it. Then again, maybe you feel the need to take the rhetoric down a notch or seven. If that’s the case, consider the humble spud. A comforting mug of potato soup could be the cure.
Friends coming for dinner? So, you’ve asked six of your favorite people to come over. It’s only been a day since you issued the invitations. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now you’re not so sure. Relax; it’s no big deal. Keep it super casual and encourage everyone to come in their most comfortable jeans and favorite sweater. Make it souper delicious with finger food and mugs of cheddar ale soup around the fire. There you have it – soup – the key to becoming the world’s most confident and capable host.
Get out your soup pot and have a great week. Bon appétit!
Cheddar Ale Soup
A cheesy soup (and pun) for what ails you! Serve it at your next fireside dinner and enjoy!
6-8 ounces thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 or more cups chicken broth
2 or more cups whole milk
12 ounces ale
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs thyme
24 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Garnish: chives and a little extra cheddar
Put the bacon in a soup pot and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Leave the fat in the pot, remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.
Raise the heat to medium-high, toss the onion, carrots, celery and potato in the bacon fat, season with paprika, chipotle, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the butter and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
Add the flour, toss to combine and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. A little at a time, stir in the broth, milk and ale, add the Worcestershire and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Remove the pot from the heat and cool for about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme twigs and, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the soup to the pot.
Can be made ahead to this point, cooled to room temperature, covered and refrigerated.
Set the soup over medium heat and re-heat to steaming. A handful at a time, whisk in the cheese. Whisking constantly and adding more milk or stock if necessary, cook until the cheese has melted and is incorporated into the soup. Do not boil.
Meanwhile, put the bacon pieces on a sheet pan and warm in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes.
Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls, garnish with a sprinkle of cheddar, bacon and chives and serve.
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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016