Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

The mildest member of the onion family is also one of the easiest to use in dishes

Leek & rice soup with smoked gouda

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Inspired by the classic French onion soup, this simple-to-prepare version features melted cheese beneath the broth rather than on top. Regular gouda, gruyère or Swiss cheese may be substituted.

6  leeks, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced (use only white and pale green parts)
1⁄2  cup (125 mL) long-grain rice
6  cups (1.5 L) chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
11⁄2  cups (375 mL) dry white wine
11⁄2  cups (375 mL) grated smoked gouda

Combine leeks, rice and chicken stock in a large soup pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes or until leeks are tender and rice is cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour wine in the top of a double boiler (or fashion one using a small saucepan set within a larger one filled with boiling water). Gently warm wine over medium-low heat, then add cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon until cheese melts and mixture becomes sauce-like, about 5 minutes.

Divide cheese-and-wine mixture among individual soup bowls, then ladle soup on top. Serve immediately along with crusty bread. (Alternatively, ladle the hot soup into bowls and float a toasted baguette slice covered with cheese-and-wine  mixture on soup.)

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