To my way of thinking, whether the weather’s bright, cold and clear or dark, wet and windy, a simple supper of soup and bread is hard to beat.
If you feel the same way, you might like the look of this pair of recipes borrowed from my copy of “Hay Day Country Market Cookbook.” Then, too
, if you lucked into a gift of fancy cheese from Vermont or New York for Christmas, here’s a chance to use some of it.
If not, I don’t think the cheese is that critical, so any good cheese from around here ought to be just fine. Same goes for the fresh chives — mine are gone again until spring, but green onions make a good substitute.
4 tablespoons (1/2 cube) unsalted butter, divided
4 carrots, scrubbed and diced
1 red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large dice
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese, preferably aged Vermont white cheddar, shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh chives
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onion and saute briefly, just until the onion is transparent, 3 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently until the carrots are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in the flour to make a paste. Continue to whisk over medium high heat for 1 minute to brown and cook the flour. Whisking continuously, add the milk in a steady, even stream and whisk the mixture into a thick, smooth, creamy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese, and stir until it is completely melted. Season to taste with pepper.
Stir the cheese sauce into the stockpot and warm the soup gently over low heat. Stir in the chives and season to taste with additional pepper as needed. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.
Note: This and all cheese soups should be reheated very, very gently; the cheese sinks to the bottom and will burn if you don’t keep a close eye on it.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, chilled
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
3 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 lightly packed cup, shredded), preferably aged New York cheddar
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add butter and shortening and pulse until the bits are no larger than small grains of rice. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the chives and cheese; toss to mix.
Add milk and stir it in gently using a large spoon or spatula, just until all the dry ingredients are moistened and a soft, slightly crumbly dough forms.
Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and gather it up into a ball. Roll dough out to form a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Fold the short ends of the rectangle in to meet in the middle; then fold the dough in half at the seam to create four layers. Roll the dough out to form a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle.
Grease and flour a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, and neatly cut the dough into rounds. Reflour cutter after each cut, and do not twist as you cut or you will compress the biscuit layers. Pinch together remaining scraps of dough, fold in half, reroll and cut additional biscuits. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, and brush the tops with the melted butter. Bake until roughly doubled in height and nicely browned on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot with soup, chili or chowder, or with ham and scrambled eggs for breakfast or brunch (they make dandy mini sandwiches, too).
Makes 8 to 10 biscuits.
The next Forum will appear in Friday’s comics pages.