Monday, March 28, 2011

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup

I can't believe that despite being to Disney World a bajillion times I haven't got the picture I want to illustrate this post! Good thing we're going back this year. (Twice)

On Sunday I made Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup - a recipe featured at Le Cellier, the restaurant located at the Canada Pavilion at Epcot, in Walt Disney World. Once upon a time, before we had the boys, David and I went to Disney a few times on our own. One of the best trips we had was on our one year anniversary. It was October 1999, but Disney was already celebrating the Millennium. They had this terrific parade and fireworks show at Epcot that was amazing. It was called Illuminations, Reflections of Earth. I'm listening to the music as I type this because in a happy coincidence, tonight I found a box of old CDs I set aside to import into iTunes like, a year ago. One of the CDs is the soundtrack to the parade/show, which featured these amazing larger than life puppets that danced through the streets of Epcot...I can't begin to do it justice.

David and I went to Epcot when we travelled solo a lot more than we do now when we visit Disney with the kids. They have started to enjoy Epcot more but for them, Magic Kingdom is the place to be. So I tend to associate Epcot more with grown-ups than kids. Although there was that time David took our niece Clara and Daniel on the Maelstrom ride in Epcot. Which isn't an intense ride. Unless you're under five. They got off wide-eyed and just kept saying to each other "That was close".

As for 'grown-up' memories, I do recall that David and I once spent at least an hour inside the (very cramped) red phone booth that's just off to the side of Canada in Epcot. That's the image I really wanted for this post, but I it only exists as a mental picture in my head. We had come to watch the fireworks and a wicked rain storm whipped up. Normally these things pass pretty quickly in Florida so we were lucky we found a fairly comfortable (and dry) place to wait out the weather. I remember thinking that phone booth was nothing like any I had ever seen in Canada. It struck me as more British than Canadian, but I was dry, so why quibble? On that same trip we were also able to take in the fireworks (dry) from a hammock big enough for two at the Caribbean Beach Resort. We had dinner at Le Cellier and I remember being a bit disappointed that we were there on Canadian Thanksgiving but there was no Thanksgiving fare to be had on the menu. I was not disappointed in the soup. I'm positive I had the (famous) Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup that meal but couldn't quite nail down the memory until I tasted my batch this weekend. Oh yes. I remember that taste. How could I forget?

I used Canadian white cheddar (obviously) and Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale for this soup. I served it in small ramekins because it is so rich I can't imagine eating a whole bowl. I've seen this recipe floating around the Internet but none match the recipe that I have, which is from Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs. The Internet version will tell you you need a diced carrot to make this soup. My recipe would disagree. Carrot or no, this is a decadent (and divine) soup. It makes a huge batch, so plan to have leftovers. Or a tummy ache.

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup

1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4 tbsp butter
1 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups milk
3/4 pound grated white cheddar cheese
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup warm beer

In 4/5 quart Dutch oven cook bacon, stirring over medium  heat about 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add the red onion, celery and butter. Saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. (I found the best way to get a small dice for the red onion was to use my Mini-Chopper. The celery I could manage by hand.)

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add the milk and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Don't boil after you add the milk. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces. When the cheese is melted and the soup is smooth stir in warm beer. If soup too think add some warm milk.

Because no post is complete without a picture, here is one of my favourite Disney shots. Featured are Clara and Daniel (recovered from their close call on Maelstrom) playing with the (highly marked-up) glow-in-the-dark Disney merchandise that comes out whenever fireworks shows are imminent. It's a bit blurry and out of focus but I think that's part of its charm....

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