Since retiring in July, I’ve had to start planning things to have for lunch. When I was working, I’d either have a lunch meeting, or I’d eat in the cafeteria, or I’d skip lunch (especially if I’d had a good breakfast that day). I might still choose to skip lunch, but that would mean my wife would have to eat lunch alone, and she’d prefer not to. So I’ve been planning leftovers and other dishes that I can quickly heat up for lunch.
Now that it’s October and the weather is getting chilly, soup is a logical choice. This week, I decided I wanted to make a cheese soup. I had an ulterior motive. I may have mentioned in a previous post that I had a particularly robust crop of Serrano peppers in my garden. They were ripening faster than I could use them. So I went looking for a recipe for homemade pepper sauce. I settled on the recipe I found on the Food Network web site from Emeril Lagasse. (Click here: Homemade Red Hot Sauce.)
Here is a photo of my beautiful Serrano peppers. I followed Emeril’s recipe as posted.
I decided a cheese soup would taste good with a little bit of the pepper sauce stirred in. So I started looking for a cheese soup recipe. I actually was a bit frustrated that it wasn’t easy to find one … at least it wasn’t easy to find a recipe that sounded good to me.
Finally I found this recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Soup from the Cabot Creamery co-op in New England. It’s pretty easy to make – sauté with butter half an onion and two cubed potatoes. Dust the vegetables with flour and let it cook a couple minutes. Stir in equal amounts of milk and chicken stock (I used a homemade turkey stock). When the broccoli is cooked tender, stir in grated cheddar cheese, season, and serve.
One modification of the recipe, of course, I added a scant teaspoon of the pepper sauce to my bowl when I ate it. The pepper sauce created a warm glow in my mouth while eating the soup. (Instead of the homemade pepper sauce, you could use Tabasco, New Orleans Hot Sauce, or any other kind of hot sauce that you might like.)
The other major modification was that I blended the soup after the broccoli was cooked. If you look at the photo on Cabot’s web site, you’ll see that it’s more of a chowder consistency, with chunks of broccoli and potato. I wanted more of a smooth soup with smaller chunks of broccoli in it. So I poured the batch into my blender and gave it a quick whirl. Then I poured it back into the pot and stirred in the grated cheese. It turned out great.
I did actually make one other modification. Cabot’s recipe calls for Cabot butter when sautéing the onions and potatoes. I used Land O Lakes.
Sorry I didn’t take a picture of my final version.
So here’s my verdict. My wife and I ate about half of the pot of soup for lunch. I’ll have the rest for lunch over the next couple of days. My wife doesn’t like the potatoes in the soup. She asked if next time, I would make it with only one potato. My feeling is that the potato primarily helps to make the soup thicker. By blending it before stirring in the cheese, I’m not sure it even needs the potato. Next time, I may simply leave the potatoes out.