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Welsh rarebit soup

Serves 2
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

"Cheese soup is a recognized part of the Welsh cuisine. Usually, some vegetable (leek, carrot, etc) is included. This version is more like a liquid Welsh Rarebit, hence the name. Sometimes beer is included; see the variation below."

Ingredients

Method

  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil based margarine (butter is more traditional)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 120g tasty cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50g blue vein cheese, chopped up
  • 600ml milk
  • 2 bay leaves (if you have them)
  • Prepared English mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Black pepper
  • French bread, diagonally sliced 1cm thick
  • Small glass of red wine
View the method

For the soup:

  1. In a non-stick frying pan with a cover, sweat the onion with a little olive oil over low heat. Do not allow to brown. Stir frequently. This will take about 20 minutes. When the onion begins to soften, add the garlic and a grind of black pepper.
  2. While the onion is sweating, mix the flour into the butter in a saucepan, then put the saucepan over low heat and gently cook the flour butter mixture. It will soften and darken slightly. Add the milk and stir continuously until the mixture is dissolved. Add the bay leaves. Continue stirring frequently until it thickens and a few bubbles form. Add the cheeses and stir, bring back to a gentle simmer while stirring. Remove the bay leaves and add the onions, which should by now be softened.
  3. Add a tsp of mustard and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Taste, and if it is not savoury enough add more mustard, sauce and/or pepper until the flavour is satisfying. It should be the consistency thick soup; adjust if necessary by adding either milk to thin it, or cornflour dissolved in a little milk to thicken. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally.

For the croutons:

  1. Sprinkle some slices of French loaf with the red wine, so that they soak it up without becoming soggy. Fry the slices on both sides in the frying pan that was used for the onion, adding a little more oil if necessary.
  2. Heat the soup bowls, and divide the soup between them. Float a crouton in each, and serve a few more croutons on the side.
  3. Variation (but not for genteel ladies' lunches):
  4. Substitute lager beer for the milk, and consider adding a splash of stout. Make anchovy butter by pounding two fillets of anchovy in a dessert spoon of olive oil based margarine (or butter), and spread on the toasted croutons. Croutons in each bowl to start.
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