Servings: 8 - 10
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small or medium onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1 or 2 ribs celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1 small (8 ounces) head cauliflower, cored and chopped
- 1 large (8 ounces) russet potato, peeled and chopped
- Leaves from 2 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
- Leaves from 1 or 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, minced (2 teaspoons)
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups whole milk
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups shredded sharp yellow wisconsin cheddar
- 2 cups shredded aged canadian cheddar
- 1 cup shredded smoked cheddar, such as Grafton Village maple-smoked cheddar
- 1/3 cup dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
- Hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
- Worcestershire sauce
- Toasted baguette slices or rye croutons, for garnish (optional)
Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, stirring to coat the vegetables. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables have begun to soften.
Add the cauliflower, potato, thyme, parsley and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, milk, nutmeg and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are completely tender.
Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes, then use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the soup until smooth. (Alternatively, puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor; if it is still quite warm, remove the center knob of the blender jar and place a clean dish towel over the opening to allow steam to escape.)
Return the soup to medium heat; heat through until it is hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and gradually add the shredded cheeses a handful at a time, stirring as you go. Do not add the cheese all at once, or it may "break" and separate, resulting in a gloppy soup.
Once all the cheese has been added, return the pot to the stove and gradually reheat ithe soup over medium-low heat, being careful not to let it boil. Add the sherry, mustard and a few generous dashes of hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Taste and add adjust seasoning as needed.
Garnish with toasted baguette slices or rye croutons, if desired, and some thyme leaves. Serve warm.
Adapted from "Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland," by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson (University of Minnesota Press, 2004).
Tested by Domenica Marchetti.
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