Saturday, January 14, 2012

Guest Post: Tomato Cheddar Soup

[Guest post: Erin Kelly, Sister] First I would like to say how honored I am to be the first guest to post on Navy Blue Kitchen. Hopefully I will provide the same level of entertainment and delicious food as my sister.

The recipe I’m sharing today was the featured appetizer for this year’s Christmas dinner, and if I do say so myself it was quite a hit. Mom and I found this dish while I was visiting Seattle last October. We had our usual shopping trip at U Village and went to Pasta & Co. for lunch. The soup of the day, Tomato Cheddar, sounded good to both of us, so we split a bowl. I had literally never tasted tomato soup that good in my life. It was the perfect snack on a crisp fall day.

Of course we both wanted to find the recipe, so when we got home we looked in the Pasta & Co. cookbooks we own. Luckily, the exact soup is featured in Pasta & Co. By Request.

I tried making the soup a few weeks later, but the results were not at all what I hoped for. The flavor was delicious, but the consistency not so much. The cheese pilled and made the soup nothing like the smooth perfection we had the first time. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I do not like chunks in my tomato sauce – even if they’re chunks of cheese. So I knew that any subsequent trial of the recipe would require a serious chunk minimization strategy.

I was eager to try the soup again, so I suggested making it for Christmas dinner because I knew I would have the considerable knowledge and skill of my sister backing me up, thus increasing my chances of success. Since the vibe of the soup did not go well with the planned main course, Em suggested we make it for an appetizer. I immediately jumped on board with this idea because it meant that we could serve the soup in adorable little cups and make mini grilled cheeses to go with it.

To make the soup luxuriously smooth this time around we employed two strategies: First, we immersion blended and strained the soup to make sure all chunks were eradicated; Then, we made sure to give the soup plenty of time to heat up and completely melt the cheese. I’ll make note of when these steps were taken in the recipe below. For now the important thing to take away from all of this is that if you, like me, hate any and all chunks, you need to go buy an immersion blender right now. It will change your life.

Anyway, the resulting soup was delicious and I would highly recommend trying it immediately. The great thing about this recipe is that you can freeze the soup for up to 2 weeks, so if you can’t finish it all at once you don’t have to waste it. Just gently re-heat and enjoy.


from Pasta & Co. By Request

Click here to print

3 Tbsp butter
½ cup onions, diced
1 28 oz. can diced or crushed San Marzano Tomatos, with juices (You may use another brand, but this is by far the best)
1 ¼ cups chicken stock (vegetable stock would work as well, for a vegetarian option)
1 ¼ cups water
½ cup sour cream
8 oz. Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar Cheese, grated (again, you may use another brand, but nothing will match this flavor)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, being careful not to burn them. Add tomatoes and juices, chicken stock and water. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat. Let cool for 10 minutes, then immersion blend until all large chunks have disappeared.

Transfer soup one cup at a time to a fine strainer positioned over another pot. Use a large spoon to press juices through the strainer, making sure to get every last drop into the pot. Dispose of tomato dregs. [Note: At this stage, the soup can be refrigerated overnight. Simply re-heat slowly when you are ready to move on to the next step.]

Add one-half of the sour cream. Whisk until well-blended, then add the other half and whisk until completely combined. Stir in pepper and cheese to blend. Gently re-heat to a simmer to allow cheese to completely melt. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grilled cheese or rustic bread slices.

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