Update: This time around I’ve used grated mature Cheddar cheese and although the colour is significantly paler the overall quality of the soup is so much better. Which is particularly noticeable compared to the soup made with double Gloucester, much darker in colour. And as I didn’t use celery this time the soup was much easier to rub through a fine wire metal sieve. The soup in the photo has cream added to it which alters the colour as well. Regardless of looking a tad anaemic this soup is loaded with lots of flavour.
This is loosely based on a Cheese and Potato Soup I had on my last day on mainland Europe after travelling for eleven months four years ago. Couldn’t quite believe how good this was. Especially as I’d never heard of this type of soup before. And this was in an airport outside of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. There was a bit of faffing around with this soup to get the consistency I wanted – although it was definitely worth it in the end. The potatoes are baked – ahem, cooked on the hob/stove. And the onions are caramelised, liquidised and rubbed through a fine wire metal sieve. Why? ‘Cos you’ll end up with a silky smooth soup that almost melts in the mouth. Today I went with a double Gloucester with chives and onion – didn’t like the texture of either the chives nor onion. Next time, and this will be cooked often as it’s seriously good comfort food, I’ll be using a plain ol’ mature Cheddar cheese instead. Very few ingredients, then, as sometimes less is definitely more.
Cheese and Potato Soup, with caramelised onions
- 200g (7.05 oz) x new potatoes (or old during winter), scrubbed
- rapeseed or olive oil
- between 200 and 300g (7.05 & 10.58 oz) x onions (depending on how sweet the base needs to be)
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
- 1 x celery stalk, washed and cut into small dice – optional
- 2 x plump garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- pinch x cayenne pepper – optional
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water + another 200ml (o.42) to gain the consistency needed
- up to 1½ x organic very low salt vegetable stock cubes (less if using regular) – cook with 1 cube before tasting for more to be added
- 2 x grinds of sea salt (allow all flavours to cook and infuse before adding seasoning)
- 4 – 6 x grinds black pepper corns
- up to 100g (3.52 oz) x mature Cheddar cheese, grated – more to personal taste
- single/light cream to personal taste – optional
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- If cooking the potatoes on the hob/stove add them to a heavy cast iron saucepan with a lid. Put on electric heat No 2 (out of 6), keeping the lid just off slightly to allow steam to escape and turn them over once during cooking time. Mine cooked within 30 minutes, larger will take 40 – 60, depending on size. As I cooked larger the following day I had to cook them with the lid just skewed enough to allow steam to escape, then, once their skins were starting to crisp I had to put the lid properly in place as otherwise they would take for ever to cook. About 15 minutes before serving I cranked the lid again to let them dry out, and reduced the heat to No 1. To check them gently squeeze both ends at the same time and if there is give in their centres they should be cooked. Take off heat and allow to cool before peeling off their skins.
- If using old potatoes then roast/bake them in the oven until cooked.
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6). When onions are ready and the pan is hot pour in enough oil to cover its base. Add the bay leaf and allow to infuse. Add the onions and stir frequently. When they start to turn a pale golden reduce heat to No 2. By this stage add the diced celery if using. When turning golden reduce heat to No 1. Push the onions to the sides, pour in a glug more oil if necessary and add the garlic. Allow several minutes for the garlic to cook out its rawness. Add the seasoning at this point, too. Sprinkle over the cayenne pepper, if using, and allow to infuse. Pour in the water, add one stock cube, up the heat to No 2 and stir until the cube is completely dissolved. Take off heat and taste for any needed extra stock to be added. Allow the soup to cool before pouring into a liquidiser/blender. Remove the bay leaf!
- Add the potatoes to the base and mash. Pour into the liquidiser/blender and blitz until absolutely smooth. Pour back into saucepan through a fine wire metal sieve, and with the back of a stainless steel soup ladle rub the soup through, discarding any pulp. Grab any purée from underneath with a wooden spoon. Put on heat No 2 and add more water to gain the consistency needed. Add the grated cheese and single/light cream if using and stir to prevent the cheese from catching on base of saucepan.
All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn