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Cheese Soup With an Attitude

January 06, 1994|BETTY ROSBOTTOM

This hearty soup would make a perfect winter meal when served with crisp salad and crusty rolls. It can be prepared up to two days ahead and refrigerated.

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ROASTED GARLIC AND WHITE CHEDDAR SOUP

3 large heads garlic 1/2 cup olive oil 2 cups chopped leeks, white parts only 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice 6 cups chicken stock 1/2 teaspoon salt Coarsely ground black pepper 1 1/2 cups packed shredded mild white Cheddar cheese 2 cups low-fat (1% or 2%) milk 1/3 cup chopped chives or parsley

Smash each head of garlic with hand to break into cloves. Lightly smash individual cloves with flat of large knife so that papery coating is loosened. Peel off skins.

Place garlic cloves in medium oven-proof ramekin, souffle or baking dish. Pour olive oil over cloves to cover completely. Cover tightly with double thickness of foil. Bake on center oven rack at 400 degrees until garlic is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes. If necessary, bake another 10 to 15 minutes. When garlic is tender, remove with slotted spoon and drain and reserve oil.

Place 2 tablespoons reserved oil in large, heavy pot and set over medium-high heat. (Reserve remaining oil for another use.) Add leeks and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add potatoes, stir and cook 2 minutes more. Add stock, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring mixture to simmer and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

Remove from heat and add roasted garlic. Puree soup in food processor, blender or food mill. Return soup to pot and place over low heat. Stir in 1 cup cheese, handful at time. Make certain each addition has melted before adding next.

Stir in milk. Taste to adjust for seasonings. Ladle soup into 6 individual soup bowls or cups. Garnish each serving with little of remaining 1/2 cup cheese, some chopped chives and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.

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