Isn't everything better with cheese? You can't go wrong on a chilly night with these rich (and cheesy!) soup ideas:
Watercress and Stilton soup: Barely wilted watercress lends a wonderful shade of green to this 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 the recipe below.
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.
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.
WATERCRESS AND STILTON SOUP
1 hour / Serves 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.