Clemson Blue Cheese Soup with Southern Comfort

Though still available only in the Carolinas, Clemson Blue Cheese, produced in relatively small quantities on the campus of Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, is one of the South’s best-kept secrets. Compared favorably by professional turophiles (cheese lovers) with Iowa’s famous Maytag Blue and many distinguished European blue-veined cheeses, Clemson Blue is strictly artisanal, not machine-made—and highly favored by Louis Osteen, Ben Barker, and many other renowned Carolina chefs. After I first tasted the rich, smooth, complex cheese, I wasted no time substituting it for English Stilton in my blue cheese soup, and eventually replaced port wine with Southern Comfort, with amazing results. Now, if only the folks down at Clemson University can figure out some way to market the cheese outside the region, great cheese making might well be recognized as still another landmark in the South’s evolving culinary heritage.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ¾ cup minced celery
  • ½ cup minced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ pound Clemson Blue (or other top-grade natural blue cheese)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons Southern Comfort

Method

In a saucepan, combine the broth, celery, and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the vegetables till tender, about 10 minutes.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, add the onion and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add the flour and continue cooking, stirring, 2 minutes. Gradually add the chicken broth mixture, increase the heat to moderate, and cook, stirring constantly, till bubbly and thickened.

Remove saucepan from the heat, add the cheese, and stir till the cheese is melted and well incorporated. Serve the soup with a tablespoon of Southern Comfort in each bowl.