What We're Cooking: Three fabulous soups

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Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup, Authentic Ramen Soup with Pork and Corn Chowder

My husband and I recently made three fabulous soups developed by America’s Test Kitchen, the organization behind Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines and TV shows.


The first two are from the publication Soups and Stews.

    • Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup. This soup was fun and easy to make, and absolutely delicious to eat. It would make a great partner to a pub-style steak sandwich for a hearty supper.

    The recipe called for American cheese, and emphasized it was a key ingredient. My husband and I puzzled over this, as neither of us have ever seen American cheese.

    Apparently we aren’t the only ones. On a Cook’s Illustrated.com message board thread, a fellow Canadian wonders what American cheese is, and if Velveeta will do instead.

    It’s funny this message poster wondered this, because after some research online, my husband and I came to conclusion that Velveeta would be the best alternative as it appears American cheese is processed cheese. (Other message board posters confirmed this theory.)

    And we were right! Velveeta worked beautifully in the recipe, melting in just as the recipe emphasized it should.

    The recipe is made by cooking onion, carrots and garlic, then whisking in chicken broth, beer (we used a Miller variety as the recipe suggested) and milk. The soup is simmered about 20 minutes.

    Shredded sharp cheddar cheese and the Velveeta, tossed together with cornstarch, is added and melted into the soup.

    • Authentic Ramen Soup with Pork. Forget about the staple of university student diets — this is the real deal, and it’s mighty delicious.

    The recipe calls for cutting up pork ribs and grinding some up for the broth and slicing some thinly for the soup.

    The person who developed the recipe likely didn’t have this in mind at all, but my husband and I took a shortcut and used already-ground pork for the broth and pork tenderloin for the soup.

    As we couldn’t find mirin, we substituted sherry cooking wine with a bit of sugar.

    I found red miso, a Japanese bean paste, at a local specialty foods store.

    The ground pork is cooked, then onion, garlic, fresh ginger and chicken broth added. This is simmered for 40 minutes, then the pork strained out. Red miso, soy sauce, mirin or a substitute, sesame oil and thinly-sliced pork is added to the broth, then set aside for three minutes for the pork to cook.

    Meanwhile, ramen noodles are boiled (we used the pre-packaged kind and discarded the seasoning packets).

    The noodles are placed in a bowl, then the soup is poured on top. It is garnished with scallions (translation: green onions) and toasted sesame seeds.


    • Corn Chowder was a a recipe I found in the magazine publication America’s Test Kitchen Best Recipes 2010, which highlights which recipes the editors of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country consider their best of the year.

    Certainly this is the best corn chowder I have ever had. It was hearty and flavourful.

    The recipe’s secret? Adding the corn cobs that had the corn kernels taken off to the soup while it simmers.

    Interestingly, the recipe calls for both corn from cobs and canned whole kernel corn.

    The kernels are cut from the cobs. Canned corn is puréed with chicken broth until smooth.

    Bacon is cooked, then taken out the Dutch oven. A chopped onion the corn kernels from the cobs are cooked in the leftover bacon fat.

    Cubed red potatoes, the corn purée, more chicken broth, and the cobs are put in the Dutch oven, and the mixture brought to a boil and then simmered.

    The cobs are discarded and heavy cream, green onions and the bacon is added.

    Then this sensational soup is served.

    Many of the recipes featured on What I’m Cooking can be found on the magazines’ websites.

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