What is Cheese Soup?

Soo Owens

Cheese soup is the general term used to describe a popular variety of soups that incorporate cheese as one of the central ingredients. New variations are created all the time by altering the ingredient list, the combination of which determines whether the soup is rich and hearty or mild and light in taste and texture. Soups that use cheese can be created at home or served up at dining establishments, with the flavor and consistency remaining unique to the chef and the recipe.

Grated Parmesan cheese is often used in cheese soups.
Grated Parmesan cheese is often used in cheese soups.

Produced all over the world, cheeses vary with a wide range of flavors and appearances. When incorporated into a meal, cheese adds a sort of rich and savory quality to the overall taste and texture to the dish. The addition of cheese to a soup recipe allows it a depth of flavor that can range from a subtle creaminess to a sharp tang. The quality, amount, and type of cheese used in the soup dictates the consistency and flavor. Cheese soup of all kinds, many of which are European and American in origin, have been explored with recipes calling for the addition of various broths, meats, vegetables, and breads.

Thick slice of Gruyere cheese for use in soup.
Thick slice of Gruyere cheese for use in soup.

Aged cheeses with lower moisture content are often recommended for use in a cheese soup. They possess more concentrated flavors, are easier to grate, and dissolve more uniformly into the soup without clumps or graininess. Parmesan, Gruyere, Cheddar, and Swiss cheeses are commonly found in a cheese soup recipe. Some well-known soup recipes, including French onion soup, tomato soup, and chili, instruct that liberal amounts of cheese be added at the very end of the cooking process, sprinkled over the soup in a thick layer and allowed to melt. Other types of cheese soup require the cheese to be blended in with the other ingredients to make a dish that is smooth and creamy or mixed with a broth to which any extra ingredients are added for a chunky soup.

Fontina cheese can be used in cheese soup.
Fontina cheese can be used in cheese soup.

A cheese soup recipe usually begins with a broth mixture that has been simmered with vegetables, spices, and herbs to which the cheese is then mixed in along with flour or some other thickener if needed. The final cheese soup mixture is often pureed in a blender or food processor before serving. The ingredients of broccoli cheese soup and potato cheese soup are often made by blending the broth, vegetable ingredient, and cheese together for a smoother, runnier consistency.

Sharp cheddar cheese is often used in cheese soup.
Sharp cheddar cheese is often used in cheese soup.
Cheese wheels aging on shelves.
Cheese wheels aging on shelves.
Potatoes are a common ingredient in hearty cheese soups served during the winter.
Potatoes are a common ingredient in hearty cheese soups served during the winter.

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