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"Say Cheese" London, Ont (moved from Ontario board)

The restaurant "Say Cheese" in London on Dundas St. closed a number of years ago. I still dream about their cheese soup. Would anyone be familiar with this restaurant and be able to share a recipe?


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  1. Only commenting to say that I agree. I had their cheddar cheese soup over 30 years ago, and have never had any better since. I too would like to have the recipe.

    1. I think Hilary Alderson was the proprietor, I'm not sure what became of her. I thought about getting in touch with James Reaney, who might know.

      But that's a lot of stalking for a recipe :-)

      1. Never too much stalking for a stock! (Man, that hurt.) I remember that soup as well. I'll ask my sister if she has it. (She ate there often, and is a dab hand at soups.)

        1. I, too, loved Say Cheese when I was living in London many years ago. That cheese soup...oh man, so good!

          As a lover of cheese soups, I have tried many. The recipe for the soup I'm attaching is not the same as Say Cheese's but it satisfies my craving whenever I have it. This has become my go-to cheese soup recipe for the past few years and is as good as any I've tasted. I have no idea where this recipe came from; it was hand-written for me by a relative. The soup is not fancy, just flavourful and a snap to make:

          Stilton and Cheddar soup

          Saute for 8-10 minutes:

          2 Tbsp butter
          1/2 Cup chopped onion
          1/2 Cup chopped carrot
          1/2 Cup chopped celery
          1 clove of garlic, diced

          Then add:

          3 Cup chicken stock
          1/2 Cup crumbled Stilton
          1/2 Cup diced Old Cheddar
          1/8 tsp baking soda
          1 Cup heavy cream
          1/2 Cup white wine
          dash of cayenne pepper
          1 bay leaf

          Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf, purée and serve.

          1. My sister and I have a tendency to cook as did our grandmothers, i.e., no measurement. Tis is my sister's response:

            Oh the Say Cheese version was my inspiration for the one that I
            generate. I make a roux, to which I add chicken broth and a couple of
            cloves of crushed garlic that are easily retrieved. Then some milk, a
            whack of cheese and very carefully add just enough beer so that it
            doesn't split. I simmer it with cilantro left whole and then I eat it.
            Quantities generated vary depending on my craving.

            1. As someone in the know , the following was the stock secret ingredient in the infamous dish that made " Say Cheese " an outstanding restaurant.

              The base broth is beef, beef bones bought at the Market and brought back to simmer ( for a day )with garlic and bay leaves. The stock is then set aside in the cooler for three to five days
              and stirred occasionally.
              Beer is the other key ingredient which is added during the regular cheese soup process.

              The above special ingredients make the soup , The Say Cheese signature dish.

              Broccoli Chedder soup base was made with chicken base and white wine.

              Enjoy :)

              1. Hahah, I've never heard anyone rave about a dish from a restaurant in London, ON. Now I want the recipe too.

                In Minnesota, beer/cheese soup is very popular( topped with popcorn). You might want to start looking in regional MN cookbooks.

                1. I can't believe I have found this post. I've lived in London Ontario most my life and every year, this time of year, I too think of Say Cheese's cheese soup. Last weekend I was at a gathering, where everyone started talking about Hilary Alderson and her cheese soup. One of the guest said that they were at a party recently where she was one of the guests. People were talking to her about her cheese soup and now in her 80's mentioned that the recipe has never been shared and has decided to leave it to her son. Such drama for a cheese soup....love it!

                  Anyway, I was looking through one of my Silver Spoon cookbooks and found a recipe for cheese soup that I think I will try. It has beef stock and beer in it as wel. I'll come back and let you know how it turns out.

                  I wonder if Hilary really knows the impact her cheese soup has made on so many people. :-)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: franca50

                    Dear Chow Hounds,

                    Hilary Alderson here! Thank you all for your interest and for remembering ‘Say Cheese’!

                    It is such a joy to read peoples’ fond memories of the restaurant and food that served London and community for over 30 years. Our family also holds sweet memories of dedicated customers and staff close to our hearts.

                    The Cheese Soup recipe has not been shared publicly. Maybe someday . . . . . and if I don’t publish it , it will be left in the family Will !!

                    I think that one of the secrete ingredients of  the  ‘Cheese  Soup’  and  many  of  our other favourite  dishes like Shropshire Stew and Fisherman’s Pie,  was the special dining  atmosphere. From the carefully-chosen music, to wine tastings, food festivals, the in-house bakery and cheese store, and many  little creative touches as we wanted the restaurant to be like no other. We worked over many years to create a warm, relaxed, unpretentious place where regulars were recognized and families could entertain. Where famous and infamous people found a haven from their brightly lit lives, and ordinary folk like us were our VIPs. We were also lucky to have a team of dedicated,  inimitable  staff (yes, like the late Terry  Preston – a waiter who was  was loved  by hundreds of customers who called him friend)

                    As for the Cheese Soup: The  ‘secret  ingredient’  in this recipe is a principle I cook by: Only the very best ingredients - no  compromises, and freshly  made  from  ‘scratch‘  every  day. No secrets  there! The difference between “real” versus “processed cheese, real whole vegetable stock versus pre-made soup bases, slowly cooked for hours versus zap heated, hand stirred versus machine whipped…at every step, I believe it makes a difference to the final taste.

                    I’ve often been asked to re-create the Cheese soup, but the  price  of cheeses  today,  together  with  the  quantity  of  cheese  our recipe calls  for, makes it prohibitive to make, especially in smaller quantities.

                    When  I  am  too  old  to  enjoy  going  out  to  parties  any longer, I may sit  down  and  write  a  book  about our years growing up with 'Say Cheese'  -  the  wonderful moments,  the  people,  and  of  course,  the  recipes.

                    A  little  note  for  ‘Justcallmemartha’ (someone in the know: Nov 2008 )  -  the  beef bone stock you  refer  to  was  actually the base for our  classic  French Onion Soup.  The Cheese Soup was 100 %  vegetarian (not Vegan) - developed especially for the  big  swing  to Vegetarianism  in  the  70’s.

                    For  franca50  -  like  you, I smile about  the  myths, the legends  and  drama  this  soup, and 'Say Cheese' itself,  has  generated.   Still, at parties, and when we are out-and-about almost anywhere, people often share all sorts of stories they have about the restaurant, cheese shop, wine events, catering, staff, and parties. I  continue  to  relish  the positive impact  and happy memories  that  that  funky Cheese Place still  holds. I smiled hugely when reading that I was recently spotted at a local party and am apparently now in my 80’s (a ways to go until that!)… if  that’s how  I  appeared,  it’s  obvious it  was well  past  the  time  that  I should  have gone home to bed!  
                    Good Luck with your soup recipes   -  Hilary Alderson

                    1. re: HILARY ALDERSON MOON

                      Hi Hilary I' ve often thought of you and the wonderful time I had working at Say Cheese. I guess I am one of the few people that has the recipe for the cheese soup and the only thing I would verify is that it is vegetarian and expensive to make. I too worked with Terry as well as Josie and most importantlyNigel. Your secret is deffinately safe with me; for to really enjoy the soup it had to be eaten at Say Cheese. P..S. I don't miss the heat of the old bread oven. Adrian Forbes-Leith

                      1. re: HILARY ALDERSON MOON

                        Hi Hilary,
                        I thoroughly enjoyed working at Say Cheese in the mid '80's. I have lots of memories connected with it, starting from my mom taking me to the first location when I was a little girl, to chasing a thief up the stairs from the Cheese Shop. I think the Fisherman's Pie was one of my favourites. And I still have a scar from the pasta machine. :) I loved the atmosphere in cheese shop, when it was busy, and when it was slower, puttering around putting out samples for customers. I also enjoyed the early Saturday morning meetings. Good memories!
                        I hope you are well.

                        1. re: HILARY ALDERSON MOON

                          Hello, fellow Chowhound friends. Ok so let's summarize what we do know. We know that the recipe needs only the best, freshest ingredients, real cheese, real whole vegetable stock cooked for hours slowly and hand stirred. So let's get out there and search for a recipe that comparable and share it with everyone.

                          I tried the one from silver spoon, it was just ok. There must be one out there that at least comes close. Looking forward to hearing from you.

                      2. Hi,
                        This post was a very fortuitous find! I am writing a fictionalized story and the opening scene takes place at Say Cheese. My first readers are clamouring for more details about the "place." Does anyone know what year it opened? Also, was it close to the Latin Quarter in London? Any details you can remember about what it looked like inside, please share them. It was over forty years ago that I was there. I seem to remember yellow painted walls, a large open space, huge windows trimmed in a light coloured wood, a high ceiling. Last thing, was the ?French onion soup on the menu in the summer time? If not, what were the summer highlights? The main thing I remember is the French onion soup with long stretchy mozzarella cheese. Thanks. Love all these details. I wish there was a cookbook for Say Cheese, kind of like the Horn of the Moon Cookbook. Lorraine.