I was pretty thrilled when Lori Lange announced that The Recipe Girl Cookbook was coming out; I love the recipes on her blog (they remind me of home – they are the same kind of wonderful home-cooked meals my mom makes!) and I literally could not wait to get my hands on her book. Then when Lori mentioned that mac and cheese soup was one of the recipes on the cover, that was all it took for me to volunteer to review it!
Lori’s cookbook features three gorgeous recipes on the cover to choose from: Macaroni and Cheese Soup with Roasted Tomatoes, Apple-Cranberry Hand Pies, and BLT Polenta Squares, but like I mentioned, my heart was set on mac and cheese soup. It’s perfect comfort food, and despite it being April, where I live we’ve been having chilly and damp roller-coaster weather with temps deciding to hover in the 40’s, so we were definitely in need of some comforting! Then after volunteering to review Lori’s cover and actually thinking about it, I got a little nervous. Not only would I be making and critiquing Lori’s recipe, but I’d also be sharing my photo of it, in comparison with Matt Armendariz’s photo (the incredibly talented photographer who shot Lori’s cookbook). Um, yikes. Those two are both rock-stars in the food world, and I was more than a little intimidated. Too late to back down though, so the only thing I could do was power through it. Luckily for me, powering through it meant making mac and cheese soup. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.
Macaroni and Cheese Soup with Roasted Tomatoes
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 35 min
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half (see Tips)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry macaroni elbows
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
8 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1. To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 425F. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for 12 minutes, then remove them from the oven and let them cool at room temperature while you prepare the soup.
2. To prepare the soup, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour, then slowly whisk in the vegetable broth and add the bay leaf. Increase the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. Add the macaroni and boil until it is almost tender, about 8 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Stir in the cream, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and pepper. Add the cheese and continue to stir until completely melted. Bring the soup to a boil again for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove it from the heat.
3. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with the roasted tomatoes.
*Smaller cherry tomatoes or pear tomatoes work best for this recipe. Larger cherry tomatoes may need a slightly longer roasting time or you may wish to cut them in fourths.
*If you refrigerate leftovers, the pasta will have more of a chance to soak up the liquid in the soup, leaving you with a wonderfully creamy mac and cheese.
*Experiment with some other cheeses, such as Gruyere, Fontina, or smoked Gouda (or a combination).
*Because I am a crazed onion-lover, I added 1 medium onion, finely chopped, to the soup. I cooked it in the butter for about 3 minutes before adding the garlic, and then proceeded with the recipe.
*I swapped out white pepper for black pepper because that’s what I had on hand; the flecks could be seen in the soup, but it was still fantastic.
The Recipe Girl Cookbook, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Copyright 2013
Seriously delicious. Anyone who enjoys mac and cheese (and who doesn’t, right?!) will likely swoon over this soup. In my opinion, cheese sauce can make or break a dish of mac and cheese, and this one was really flavorful, which additions like garlic, Dijon, Worcestershire, and a touch of Tabasco. The fact that it is in soup form makes it like eating a bowl of super cheesy mac and cheese! Roasted tomatoes are the perfect topping, adding balance with touch of sweet/tart flavor and cutting through the richness of the cheesy soup.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
Oh yes! In my house, I think it will become part of our regular rotation of meals during cold weather months; it’s a fun change from a classic mac and cheese!