Say cheese! Who knew there were so many types of cheese?! I grew up on cheddar, mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, cheddar, maybe some Swiss, and more cheddar.
Seriously, it was a big deal if my mom came home with sharp, or even medium, cheddar cheese. Wait, there were a few rare occasions that my mom bought muenster cheese for sandwiches. I only remember that because I’m pretty sure that I called it “monster” cheese.
So it’s no wonder that I feel a little misplaced walking down the cheese isle of the grocery store. I’ve tried my handful of cheese and have found that I like most of them. I recently made some Little Veggies Gruyere Mac n’ Cheese that was delicious. I have also experimented with pepper jack cheese in my Pepper Jack Creamed Corn recipe. That also turned out amazing.
I’ve also been rotating feta, blue cheese, and gorgonzola on my salads for an extra boost of flavor. The kids aren’t too keen on those ones. Chunks of cheese along with bits of chewed up lettuce usually end up right back on their plates. “A” for effort, right?
But there are still so many cheeses out there that I have yet to try. I’m committing myself to buying at least one new cheese a month, just to see what I’m missing. Because really, can your life be complete without hoarding cheeses???
My latest purchase was a small block of Havarti cheese. The description said it has a mild, nutty flavor. Hmm…that’s pretty safe. And then it sat in my fridge and I forgot about it for a good two weeks. It wasn’t until I thought about making a Butternut Squash Havarti Corn Chowder that I remembered my little stowaway in the garage fridge. How good would that cheese be melted into a rustic corn chowder?! Uh…heck a good!
This chowder is a complimentary combination of sweet and savory. You get a hint of sweetness from the corn and squash, but then it is balanced by the earthy flavors of potatoes, celery, and herbs. The added allspice adds a wintery warmth to the soup which is delightful, even when making it in the summer like I did. So what, I don’t follow the rules.
And the cheese? That Havarti proved to be the perfect ingredient addition. It really boosted this soup to a new level. Havarti, check. Now on to the next cheese please.
What are some of your favorite cheeses?
- 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces*
- 1½ cups sliced celery
- 1 can vegetable broth (15 oz.)
- 2¾ cups water
- 4 ears of corn (about 4 cups)
- 2 cans diced new potatoes with potato water
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- 2 cups skim milk
- 2 cups half and half
- ½ cup white rice flour
- ¼ cup potato flour
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1½ teaspoons ground mustard
- 1½ teaspoons dried basil
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup shredded Havarti cheese
- Prepare veggies by peeling and chopping butternut squash* into bite sized pieces. Slice celery stalks about ¼" thick to yield 1½ cups. Cut corn off the cob. Dice onion and mince garlic.
- Place squash and celery in a large pot. Pour in can of vegetable broth and 2¾ cups water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Add corn and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until veggies are just tender. Add both cans of potatoes with the water from the cans into the pot.
- While vegetables are cooking make your cream base** by melting butter on medium high heat in a medium sized saucepan. Once butter is melted, add onion. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes or until onion becomes slightly tender. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Stir the white rice flour and potato starch into the melted butter to make a thick paste. Slowly pour in milk and half and half while stirring with a whisk. Continue stirring and heating until mixture becomes smooth and thick, about the thickness of pudding.
- Pour the cream base into the vegetable mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Add parsley, salt, ground mustard, basil, allspice, cayenne pepper, pepper, and sugar. Stir to combine. Bring heat level to medium and add shredded cheese. Stir until completely melted through. Season to taste.
**You should begin making the cream base once you start boiling the squash and celery. If your cream is finished before the veggies are done cooking, just remove it from the heat or keep it on low heat until you are ready to pour it into the pot.
This soup can be made a day in advance for more pronounce flavor. Just reheat over stovetop, and you may add more milk or water to thin it out after reheating if needed.