Friday, February 14, 2014

Another snow day...must make soup!

Ordinarily, one would rejoice at the prospect of a snow day--this time a proper one where classes are cancelled before you make it into school. But this is the second one in a week and a half, and I am starting to despair that my MWF classes will never get caught up!

That said, I slept in, took a hot shower and put on clean, cozy jammies, got the fire going, and started a pot of creamy Monterey Jack cheese soup for dinner. Now I'm trying to clear out the dvr, catch up on blogging, and I'm considering baking something...maybe banana nut bread? To top it all off, I just got a call from my oncologist's office with a "normal" blood work result! Now THAT'S a sweet Valentine's Day!

The soup recipe was another Pinterest discovery, and it's quite good. I made some changes, of course, like using my homemade salsa verde in place of the tomatoes, onion, and peppers in the recipe. Also, I recommend the addition of a couple of cans of corn and some cut-up grilled chicken strips to make it a heartier meal, though it's deliciously meatless as it. Either way, it'll warm your cockles on a snow day!

Monterey Jack Cheese Soup
(Source: adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

2 cups chicken broth
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles*
1 cup tomatoes, diced*
1 cup onion, finley chopped*
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups milk, hot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 lb Monterey jack cheese, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups - see note)
2 cans sweet corn, drained (optional)
1 lb. grilled chicken strips, cut into a large dice (optional)

*I used 1 1/2 cups of homemade salsa verde instead of the chiles, tomatoes, and onion.

In a medium pot bring broth, chiles, tomatoes, onion (or salsa verde), and garlic to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are soft. (If using salsa verde, just bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and hold until ready to use.)

While the veggies are cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the flour and cook for three minutes stirring constantly. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of the hot milk, adding a 1/2 cup at a time. Cook for seven minutes over medium heat until thickened.

Remove veggie/broth mixture from the heat and stir into milk mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups of hot milk, salt and pepper and Monterey Jack cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. (Make sure your don't heat the cheese soup on too high of heat or the cheese will "break" and be grainy.) If you like, add corn and chicken and just heat through.

Note: When making soups it's best to not use pre-shredded cheese which can have additives and doesn't melt as well. For creamier soups buy cheese in blocks. 

Follow-up (2/15): The soup was very creamy…UNTIL I reheated it (on low) today in the crock pot. Then I got the graininess going on. So either I left it heating too long, or it just doesn’t reheat well. So next time, unless I’m cooking for a lot of people, I’ll just make half the recipe.

Yet another follow-up (2/18): You know what "fixed" the grainy reheated soup? I can just hear the screams of the food purists and the "clean" eaters now, but I chopped up about a cup of sharp cheddar flavored Velveeta to the leftovers, and that did the trick. Took it right back to smooth and creamy. I know, I know. But desperate times called for desperate measures! ;-)

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