As you may recall, I blundered on Tuesday and went all out on the state of Wyoming, only to realize that it was not the 30th state; that honor belongs to Wisconsin. In an attempt to redeem myself, I went back to the cookbook shelves and I now properly welcome you to week 30 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday (even though it’s Friday). This week we (finally) welcome Wisconsin, who joined the union on May 29, 1848.
Here are some interesting facts about Wisconsin. It is nicknamed ‘The Badger State’, but not because it has a crazy abundance of the animals living there. It was named that because of the early migrant miners, who burrowed into the hillsides for temporary shelter rather than seeking a more permanent housing solution. It was a free state and an important stop on the Underground Railroad. It was on March 20, 1854, a group of citizens who were angered by the threat of an expansion of slave states that created the Republican Party. And, I think it would no surprise to anyone that Wisconsin’s more than 1.2 billion dairy cows produce over three billion gallons of milk annually.
With all that milk, Wisconsin is also a huge cheese producer, and even its residents call themselves cheeseheads. So on that note, I sought out the proper recipe to acknowledge this and found that Cheese Soup is a pretty big deal in Wisconsin. Like many other states with a ‘famous’ dish, there was an abundance of versions to pick from. Probably most famous is their Cheese and Beer soup, but Josh is not a fan of anything cooked with alcohol, so I went for a version that was more in tune with his liking. I settled on Wisconsin Bacon and Potato Cheese Soup, which combines a nice vegetable base with potato, bacon and cheese to create a very dense and hearty soup. It was thick to the point of being almost like a pudding, so I have adjusted the recipe below to include more liquid than what was originally called for. I also reduced the amount of cheese from the original, and swapped out evaporated milk for the heavy cream. Using evaporated milk not only reduces the calorie count, but also reduces the risk that your soup will curdle. I almost always make this switch and have never felt that the dish was lacking.
Overall, I give this recipe a B+. It is so decadent that you can’t eat a whole lot of it, but it was tasty. And looking back, I do realize that I made a similar soup when we were in Vermont. God, what a bad week I am having! Seriously, I am just going to move and call this week a wash. By the way, next up is California. I checked twice. Maybe we will just have a Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Stay tuned and see you next week!
Recipe for: Wisconsin Bacon and Potato Cheese Soup
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup sliced carrots (roughly 1 large)
⅓ cup sliced celery (roughly 1 stalk)
⅓ cup chopped onion (½ a medium)
⅓ cup red pepper, diced (½ a medium)
½ cup mushrooms, diced (a handful)
3 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup flour
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup bacon cooked and crumbled, divided (about ¾ pound)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Franks Hot Sauce or more
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- In a large pan cook the diced potatoes in salted water until tender. Then drain. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
- In another pan melt butter, and then add carrots, celery, onion, red pepper, mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until tender. Stir in the ¼ cup flour and coat all veggies. Cook for about a minute, stirring and tossing.
- Add the cooked potatoes to the cooked vegetable mixture. Then stir in the chicken broth and evaporated milk. Cook over medium heat stirring until slightly thickened. Reduce heat and add in ¾ cup of bacon bits, dry mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, and salt & pepper.
- Gradually stir in cheese, stirring until just melted. Do not boil the soup or it may burn.
- Adjust seasonings to your taste, adding more hot sauce if you want it a little spicy.
- Top each serving with the remaining bacon bits.