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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese Soup

Macaroni and cheese, especially Velveeta, reminds me of my childhood.  I have strange memories of squeezing the foil pack of Velveeta cheese into the pot of cooked pasta as my dad stirred the mixture.  I also ate a lot of Easy Mac in college, but now I can’t stand it.  Nevertheless, If KK weren’t around or if calories ceased to exist, I might eat mac and cheese 2-3 times/week.  Although my picture doesn’t do it justice, this soup was remarkably creamy, and the store-bought breadcrumbs added an unexpectedly pleasing crunch to the soup.  The original recipe recommended using whole milk, but we drink skim or 1%.  In using skim instead of whole milk, the soup didn’t come to its creamy state of perfection until I used the immersion blender to smooth it up.  If you’re making this for kids, the immersion blender also helps break up the diced vegetables, hiding the added nutritional value from potential picky eaters.  Before adding the pasta, it will look like you have a lot of liquid for the soup, but the pasta absorbs some of the liquid, and it forms the perfect ratio of soup to noodles.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers, although I imagine more of the soup will be absorbed by the noodles… but I’m OK with that because it just means the leftovers will be more like mac & cheese than soup.

Macaroni and Cheese Soup
Adapted from Famed Cooks
Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
8 ounces dry elbow macaroni
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced celery
2 Tbsp butter
⅓ cup flour
cup sherry or white wine
3 cups chicken broth
½ tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Breadcrumbs for topping, optional

Directions
1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, saut√© onions and celery with butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add flour to pan and stir for 1 minute.

3. Next, add liquids to the pan.  Start by adding the wine, bringing the mixture to a simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Then add chicken broth and cayenne pepper, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes as mixture begins to thicken.  Finally, whisk in milk and simmer for another 3-5 minutes until hot.  Keep pan at a simmer; do not bring to a boil.

4. Add cheese in 1-cup increments, stirring after each pour until the cheese melts.  If soup looks clumpy, use an immersion blender to smooth out the liquid.

5. Pour in cooked macaroni, stirring until the pasta is warmed through.  Serve immediately, topping with breadcrumbs if desired.

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