Rethinking Cheese Soup
Usually when I make cheese soup I start with onion and garlic, add flour to make a roux, then add milk. I heat the milk to just to boiling then turn it down and add the potatoes and bacon and cheese. I use what ever kind of milk is in the fridge. I've noticed when using 2%, the soup separates and feels gritty. Usually I can use an immersion blender to make come together, but I've been throwing some ideas around to make it better. What about using chicken broth as the liquid and adding cream at the end instead? Or using whole milk instead of 2%? Should I still add cream at the end? The flavor is ok (still missing something), the texture is not. I'm not crazy about beer in cheese soup, but I could give it a try again. Same with Worcestershire Sauce. My family has been requesting this, but I'm really not feeling it. Help me out please, how doyou make your cheese soup?
I make mine pretty much the way you do; sautee onion & garlic in butter, mix in flour to make a roux, add heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2. Bring to a simmer, add worcestershire, s & p (I like heat so sometimes add cayenne) then stir in my cheese at the end.....
I only use 2% milk, I don't buy whole milk, and I've used it to make cheese soup but I still add at least half & half, because the milk lacks the fattiness you need to give the soup that silky mouth feel.
I don't drink beer and don't use it to make cheese soup but if you were to use it, you'd need to use 1/2 & 1/2 or cream too if you want the creaminess associated with cheese soup.
Another thing I've found that if you are using pre-shredded cheese, it doesn't melt as smoothly as the cheese you shred yourself. I think it has something to do with what they put on the cheese to keep it separate in the bag that causes it to be stringy in certain applications...
Actually, they coat pre-grated cheese with starch. It's just a little bit and has no impact on the way the cheese melts. What is effecting it's meltability, though, is moisture content. As cheese dries out, it gets more dense/harder to melt. Pre-grating the cheese exposes an exponentially greater amount of it to air. Add to that the fact that all plastic is air permeable, so even though it's in a bag, it's losing moisture and you invariably end up with a drier denser less meltable cheese.