Thursday, December 31, 2015

"The Four Seasons Cookbook" - Cheddar Cheese Soup for the Winter Solstice (December 21, 2015)

Date I made this recipe:  December 21, 2015 – Winter Solstice!

The Four Seasons Cookbook by Charlotte Adams; Special Consultant:   James Beard.
Published by Crescent Books
© 1971
Purchased at Barnes and Noble Used Books
Recipe:  Cheddar Cheese Soup – p. 95

Reader, I was almost stumped on what to make, if anything, for the Winter Solstice when I read an article in New York Magazine that the venerable Four Seasons Restaurant would be closing soon and relocating to another site, as yet to be determined.  Well this news will likely cause a cosmic shift in the world, if not the local NYC restaurant industry because the Four Seasons is so well know and I cannot recall a time it didn't exist.  Not that I've eaten there, but just always knew of it.  Well, seasons change and time marches on, does it not?

The article though, prompted me to search out this cookbook and what a great cookbook this was for today's Winter Solstice.  I do not enjoy winter, not one little bit and I really loathe the darkness, especially this year when we've had at least four solid weeks of nothing but cloud cover, but the solstice marks the end of our shortened days and this "seasonal" event should be celebrated.  And may I just say that the brightness, if you will, of the cheddar cheese used in the soup made me think of the sun and the coming of more daylight and so it was just the perfect storm of cookbook and recipe.

As you might imagine, this cookbook is divided into recipes fitting the four seasons and really, aside from a few recipes, you could probably enjoy any of these at any time of year.  It was really just a happy accident that the cheese soup ended up in the "winter" selections, especially since the remaining recipes were not ones that I would generally make including "Sturgeon and Caviar," or even "Caviar Blinis" for that matter.  It's not that I am opposed to caviar but I'm sure not going to send you on a goose chase to find it!

Also off the list was "Filet of Smoked Eel, Sauce Verte" (p. 87)  Need I say more?  There were also plenty of recipes for lobster and one for "Marrow Soufflé in Crust" which honestly, didn't sound too bad but I would have likely sounded very pretentious if I posted it here so I didn't.

In fact, a good majority of dishes in this book were rather lofty and ambitious but happily, each season is balanced out with dishes you and I would make.  That said, this is The Four Seasons Cookbook so if you were expecting to find your basic Tater Tot Casserole or Mac and Cheese, this is not the cookbook for you.

Now I must confess that I altered this very easy dish just a bit and that was by adding some boiled potatoes to it.  On its own, this is more of a thin broth soup than it is something hale and hearty and besides, I love potatoes in cheese soup and so I added them after cooking them in a little bit of broth.  Perfect!

And so we had our solstice dinner and all was well with the world although given the cloud cover, we have yet to see any evidence of our creeping daylight hours.  Oh well—we're in it to win it and so we can wait.  And wait.  And wait and wait and wait.  Until spring.

Happy Winter Solstice.

Cheddar Cheese Soup – serves 6
3 tablespoon minced onion
3 tablespoons grated carrot
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ pound sharp cheddar cheese (grated) 1 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (garnish)

Ann's Note:  To make your life a little easier, you can "mince" and "grate" your onion and carrots in a mini food processor. 

Sauté the onion and carrot in butter over low heat for 10 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, mustard, and paprika, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Combine the milk and cornstarch.  Stir into the first mixture and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the cheese and stir until it is melted.  Season and serve with chopped parsley on top.

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