Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese and Vegetable Soup

The past month has connected me with some folks that I knew from a time when I lived in central Minnesota.  I know what you’re thinking — why are you talking about Minnesota in a post that has Wisconsin in the title?  Well, I was looking for a new soup recipe and turned to my standby Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland cookbook that I’ve referenced in regard to a few recipes lately.  As I was paging through the cookbook, I was reminded of my friends who talked about some cooking traditions that existed in their households and that we had contemplated within our friend group.

We talked about pancake Saturdays, a friend mentioned soup Sundays, and this idea that fellowship and camaraderie can be engaged around food on a regular basis is something that has stuck with me ever since.  I’ve hosted dinners for folks, raised awareness about Rett syndrome with fundraisers centered around food, hosted a soup exchange, and done other things to try and make these connections with food at the center, but have yet to find either the magic recipe for consistency with friends, food, and fellowship.

This recipe isn’t the item that makes that transition, although it is a great option for making these connections.  I think I had originally marked it as something to try with friends when we were doing a soup night.  I still hadn’t thrown the soup together until this fall, when going through the process of cooking food was something I needed as a mental break from the work day-to-day that has left me wanting to do something that engages the senses differently.  Enter this vegetable-packed soup.

Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese and Vegetable Soup.jpg

Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese and Vegetable Soup

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 c peeled, chopped onion
1/2 c chopped celery
1 c chopped cauliflower
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 c homemade chicken stock
1 quart milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground pepper
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c sherry
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
Tobasco sauce for seasoning
Worcestershire sauce for seasoning

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and saute the vegetables over low heat until soft.  Add the stock, milk, nutmeg, and pepper, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender, return to pot and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and add the Cheddar cheese in batches, stirring after each batch before adding more.  (Be careful.  If the soup is too hot and the cheese is added to quickly, it may “break” and become stringly and gloppy.)  Gradually reheat the soup, while stirring, being careful not to boil.  Then add the sherry, mustard, tabasco, and Worcestershire sauces to taste.  Garnish with croutons and cheese.

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