Isn't everything better with cheese? You can't go wrong on a chilly night with these rich (and cheesy!) soup ideas:
French onion soup: This classic doesn't even need a recipe. Start with a generous amount of sliced onions gently softened and browned in a deep pot with a little oil and fresh thyme. Add a touch of sherry, scraping the flavoring from the base of the pot, then fill with rich beef broth and bring to a simmer. Plate each serving in a deep oven-proof bowl, topped with a slice or two of crusty French bread and a layer of sliced or grated Gruyere or good Swiss. Pop each bowl under the broiler to melt and lightly brown the cheese, and dinner is served.
Brie 'n' apple soup: You'll love the simplicity of this recipe and the way the flavors pair so naturally. The tart apple notes brighten the soup, complementing the rich creaminess of the melted Brie for an easy yet wonderfully flavorful dish.
Watercress and Stilton soup: Barely wilted watercress lends a wonderful shade of green to our third soup, rich with Stilton cheese and garnished with toasted pecans. It makes a wonderful first course or light meal, and the whole dish comes together in about an hour.
You can find recipes for the apple/brie and watercress/stilton soups below.
BRIE 'N' APPLE SOUP
Total time: 1 hour
Note: Adapted from Bistro du Soleil. This soup can be made ahead of time through Step 3 and chilled; reheat the purée before continuing the recipe.
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery with leaves, finely chopped
2 large or 3 medium tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 pound cold Brie, rind removed and cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Brown sugar to taste
Parsley for garnish
1. In a large saucepan heated over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the onion, celery and apple and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the contents are soft and slightly golden, about 10 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to coat the contents. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes to moisten the flour.
3. Whisk in 1 cup of the chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium and continue to whisk until the broth has thickened and begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining broth and bring the contents to a brisk boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and purée the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain the purée into a clean saucepan. The soup can be made up to this point and chilled; reheat the purée over low heat before serving.
4. Heat the puree over medium-low heat and stir in the Brie cubes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is fully melted, then whisk until the soup is smooth. Whisk in the heavy cream and thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper and optional brown sugar.
5. Garnish the soup with parsley before serving. This makes about 1 quart soup.
Each serving: 389 calories; 15 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 27 grams fat; 17 grams saturated fat; 93 mg. cholesterol; 678 mg. sodium.
WATERCRESS AND STILTON SOUP
Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from "In the Hands of a Chef" by Jody Adams and Ken Rivard (Morrow, 2002).
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium leeks, white parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
Freshly ground white pepper
4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock, if not preparing vegetarian)
2 baking potatoes, peeled, quartered
2 bunches watercress, washed, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 cup half-and-half or whipping cream
2 to 3 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled
A few sprigs watercress
Chopped toasted pecans, for garnish
1. Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 8 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the watercress and cook until wilted but bright green, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Carefully transfer to a blender or food processor in batches and puree until smooth. Strain through a coarse sieve into a clean saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. Stir in half-and-half and cheese until the cheese is melted. Adjust the seasoning. Garnish with sprigs of watercress and pecans.
Each of 6 servings: 217 calories; 540 mg. sodium; 41 mg. cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.