Saturday, October 12, 2013

Cheesesteak Soup

Kenzie, Pat and Gary at the soup bar!
I know... the title of this post is pretty shocking, for a number of reasons.  First of all, it says the word steak in it, and you know I'm not a meat-cooking type of gal.  Second of all, it says cheesesteak soup, and what the heck is that?!  Well, be shocked all you want, but also be very intrigued, because this soup was extremely popular at my movie premiere party.  I made this along with a pasta fagioli as the main dishes for the party, and while I received compliments on both, this cheesesteak soup had people going wild - particularly the men!

After our new assistant principal got her job, she took her old classroom's workers out to Joey's Bar and Grill in Worcester.  I went with Mark, and the soup of the day that night was cheesesteak soup.  One of us ordered it (not me!) and it was so good and different and exciting that it was passed around the table multiple times.  When my October Food Network Magazine came in with a cheesesteak soup recipe in it, I showed it to Kenzie and she immediately insisted I make it for the party.  Yes, it does have meat in it, but there was minimal meat touching required, and I figured: you only make your TV debut once, so it was a good time to try something new and maybe please the carnivores who were coming over for dinner.

I never ate any of the steak, obviously, but I did try the broth, and it was really, really good.  It's made from onions, carrots, garlic, chicken broth, and even some Worcestershire sauce.  Needless to say, there was also a pound of cheese (two pounds, since I doubled it!), half cheddar and half provolone.  The recipe called for celery seeds, which I couldn't find, and hot sauce which I ignored.

Besides the broth, the next best part of the soup was the croutons.  You cannot skip the croutons or your cheesesteak soup should really be renamed cheese steak soup; after all, you can't have a cheesesteak without the bread.  This recipe calls for soft hoagie rolls to be cubed, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper, and baked. That's it, so it's very easy.  Lots of people asked what I had done to the croutons to make them so good - Nick insisted there must have been garlic powder - but that was really all I did.  The fresh croutons are definitely a must in this soup.
Don't skip the croutons!

Then of course there is the steak; the recipe says to top each bowl of soup with the steak, but since we were buffet-style here that night, I tossed it into the soup at the end.  I did not add in the chopped pepperoncini because I thought it was a bit too weird, but people did scoop some into their soup bowls so I guess they liked it!

This is not your average soup, and so it creates a lot of excitement.  Besides being so different, it's just really good; my uncles and cousins especially were big fans, and all the leftovers of my giant batch were gone in a couple days!  As far as meat soups go, this one was so popular that I just may have to make it again... for special occasions only :)


cheesesteak soup
from the October 2013 issue of Food Network Magazine

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 soft hoagie rolls, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
1 pound shaved beef steak or roast beef
1/4 cup jarred sliced pepperoncini
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping


1)  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery seeds, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 3 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup flour, the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce; cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.  Bake until golden and crisp, about 7 minutes.  Set aside.

3) Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.  Return to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes.  Toss the cheddar, provolone, and the remaining 2 tablespoons flour in a bowl; slowly whisk the cheese mixture into the soup until melted.  Return to the blender and puree until smooth.  Pour back into the pot and bring to a low boil; remove from the heat.

4) Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the pepperoncini and parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Ladle the soup into bowls; top with the beef, croutons, and more parsley.

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