Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cheddar Ale Broccoli Soup

Now, I know I had all sorts of healthy, well-cooked meals growing up. I inherited my mom's taste for a lot of things, most of them on the extreme end of Healthy. That said, I didn't eat red meat voluntarily until I was almost 20, and I didn't know I liked butter or cheese until I lived in San Francisco a couple of years later (and then I couldn't stop!). We ate a plant-based diet and I turned my nose up at Campbell's Soup from a can and actually felt afraid of American Cheese. I'm not saying the way I grew up eating was a better way than any other. In fact, there have been many times when my food snobbiness has held me back or made me feel like an outsider (more on that in posts to come). I think it also kept me from experiencing some really amazing foods! Tonight I made one of those foods I never had growing up and I certainly never made it before now. What was I thinking?!
When I think of Broccoli Cheddar soup, I think of that short red and white can of Campbell's, and I think, no, that's not "food". We don't eat that. Oh yes, we do - if it's from scratch. One taste of the soup and I felt transported to... comfort! Perfect for the day after a snow storm on a Sunday night to eat with friends.

2 T butter, olive, coconut, or canola oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t yellow mustard powder
12 oz ale (I used a Dogfish Head Brown Ale)
3 Russet Potatoes, chopped into 1" cubes
8-10 c chopped broccoli (including stems)
9 c vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
Queso (recipe below)

In a large pot, saute onion in oil for 5-10 min, careful not to let brown. Add garlic, and sprinkle mustard powder on top. Stir until all incorporated, and add ale, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot, and letting it simmer until alcohol cooks off. Add potatoes, broccoli, and stock. Liquid should cover the vegetables but if it doesn't, add water until it does. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until potatoes are well cooked through and falling apart. At this point, puree with an immersion blender (or in a blender, in batches). Add and pepper to taste. Stir in the warm queso.

Queso
2 poblano peppers
2 T butter or oil
4 T flour
2 1/2 c milk
4 c shredded cheddar cheese

Over an open flame, roast the peppers, turning with tongs so all sides are blackened. Place peppers either in ice water bath or in a brown paper bag, and close it. Leave until cool to touch. Peel peppers, take out seeds, and dice them.
Over medium heat, saute peppers in oil. Sprinkle flour on top and mix well. Continuously mix as you add the milk. Stirring occasionally, heat until simmering. Lower heat and add the cheese until it is all melted and a uniform sauce.