I didn't make this recipe up, and I don't remember where I copied it from (probably my mom's 101 things to do with cheese cookbook from 1974). So if whoever invented this recipe is reading this, I'm not taking credit, and I'd cite you but I don't know who you are.
3 Tbs butter
1 large onion, finely chopped so your boyfriend doesn't know it's in there
1 large leek, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 Tbs flour
6 cups vetable or fish broth or water, hot
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
several sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 bay leaves
1 2/2 cups light cream (single cream to you brits)
2 1/2 cups really sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Melt butter on med-low heat in a very large pot
- Add onion, leek, garlic. cook gently for 5 mins until translucent. do not brown.
- Add flour, mix well with butter until all flour is incorporated and covers onion and leek like sticky paste
- Increase heat under pot to high
- Add a little of the hot broth and boil, stirring constantly. continue adding the broth in small increments, making sure the soup boils in between and all the previous addition is completely incorporated before adding more. (This is to ensure that the chowder is thick at the end process and the butter doesn't separate out.)
- Add all the remaining ingredients except the cream and cheese.
- Reduce heat back to med-low, cover, and simmer for 35 mins, stirring occassionally.
- Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
- Stir in cream. Simmer very low for 5 mins. Do not boil.
At this point you have 2 options. If you are serving the whole lot straight away (serves 6 generously) you can slowly add the grated cheese and incorporate it into the soup. If you are only serving a portion of it and want to keep the rest in the fridge for leftovers, ladel out the portion you are serving and sprinkle the cheese on top, in the individual bowls. This is becuase once you add the cheese the chowder doesn't keep well. It makes the texture all gross. So only add cheese to the quantity that will be eaten right away.
Serve this chowder hot with a crust of good, solid bread and glass of malty beer.
Tips: becuase this is such a simple recipe (really, it is. You only need one pot and the whole thing takes less than an hour start to finish), the outcome depends largely upon the quality of the ingredients. It is well worth it to go to a good organic grocery store and buy a block of organic cheddar that still has veins of mould through it. That is how cheese should be, and it will make a huge difference to your finished product. It is also well worth keeping a small pot of fresh tyme on your windowsill. Dried thyme doesn't have nearly the flavor, and you can't remove it after because it's in powder form, so it destroys the nice pure, creamy appearance of the chowder. And if you eat this chowder with stay-fresher-longer extra-sodiumbenzoate bread I will personally come and bludgeon you with a turnip.