Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bourbon Cheddar Smoked Turkey Soup with Herb Focaccia Bread Sticks

A nice soup for winter and the holiday season!

     There is a fine line between what defines a cheese sauce and a cheese soup.  The proportion of cheese tends to be lower in a soup, but not always.  Secondary flavors, like herbs and mirepoix vegetables are part of a cheese soup and they are not usually part of a cheese sauce.  Beer, wine or liquors can be added to either cheese recipe.  Basically, a cheese soup is thinner than a cheese sauce and the flavor balance is more delicate.  
     The quality of the cheese does make a big difference, especially when cheddar is used to make a soup.  Cheap bulk mild cheddar has very little flavor at all.  Several handfuls of cheap mild cheddar can be added to a soup and the cheddar flavor will still not be pronounced.  Cheap mild bulk cheddar is a waste of time.  A small amount of good quality sharp cheddar will produce a richer cheddar flavor in a soup, than a large amount of cheap mild bulk cheddar.
     Beer cheese soup is a nice tasting classic cheddar soup.  The savory barley wheat grain and hops flavors of beer go well with cheddar.  Bourbon also is a nice flavor for a cheddar soup, because the sour mash corn grain and wheat grains have basic flavors that go well with this cheese.  To achieve the best flavor, the bourbon should be added late in the recipe.  It takes less bourbon to flavor a soup when the bourbon is added last.  After the soup simmers for a few minutes, the alcohol will evaporate and the bourbon flavor will remain.     
     Cream soups are not typically made only with milk and cream.  A broth or stock can be added and the soup will still be called a cream soup.  A cheddar soup does not have to look plain, like a cheese sauce.  A cheddar soup can have bits of savory meat, aromatic vegetables and herbs in the recipe that compliment the cheddar flavor.  The object is to accent or compliment the cheddar flavor in the soup.
     Bread sticks are nice with a cheddar soup.  If the herbs or additional flavors in the bread sticks clash with the flavor of the soup, then the bread sticks should not accompany the soup.  When garnishing a soup with bread sticks, the bread stick flavor has to be a good match for the soup.    

     Seasonal Herb Bread Sticks:
     Follow this link to the recipe!  It takes a few hours to make this bread recipe.

     Bourbon Cheddar Smoked Turkey Soup:
     This recipe make 1 large serving of soup our 2 small servings!  The yield is about 2 3/4 cups.
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring.
     Constantly stir the roux, till it turns a golden color and till it just starts to emit a light hazelnut aroma.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of light chicken stock, while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the roux thickens the stock.
     Add 2 cups of milk.
     Stir occasionally, till the soups heats and till it becomes a very thin sauce consistency.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of small chopped smoked turkey.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced carrot.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of Spanish paprika.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of dill weed.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Simmer and reduce the soup, till the vegetables become tender and till the soup becomes a thin sauce consistency.  Stir the soup occasionally.
     Add 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the cheese blends with the soup.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of Kentucky sour mash bourbon.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian parsley.
     Simmer and reduce the soup, till the alcohol evaporates and the soup becomes slightly richer than a thin sauce consistency.  If the soup becomes too thick, add a little bit of milk.  (This soup should not be as thick as a nacho cheese sauce!)
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ยบ bain marie.  Stir the soup occasionally.

     Bourbon Cheddar Smoked Turkey Soup with Herb Focaccia Bread Sticks:
     Ladle the soup into a large shallow soup bowl.
     Place 2 warm long thin bread sticks in the soup, so they lean on the rim of the bowl.
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.

     The smokey turkey flavor, bourbon, mirepoix and herbs combine with the sharp cheddar to create a and very satisfying flavor.  This is a nice chilly weather soup!  Yum!  ...  Shawna  

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