Snow has mysterious power here in Seattle. Politicians panic. Kids of every age, dogs and TV weathermen rejoice. We don’t drive in it if we can possibly help it – in fact, some people actually abandon their cars on the road at the first sight of flakes. We usually don’t even have to shovel it – only once in 10 years does it stay on the ground that long. No one owns a snow shovel, anyway.
I was lucky enough to have a cheese soup planned for the first real winter day of 2012.
Many of us who participated in Charcutepalooza are searching for the next thing – something that keeps us writing and connected with one another. Some of the meat-masters have taken up the #baketogether challenges, and many are still producing and talking about charcuterie on Twitter.
This month though, I’m excited to be a part of #Souperbowl – a monthly soup making challenge. Hosting duty rotates through the group; each hosts picks a deadline, three key ingredients, and a country of inspiration for the aspiring soup makers.
When I saw Amanda’s instructions for January -create a German beer-cheese-bread soup – I knew I was in this month. I’d already been planning a January fondue – making a mental shift to a cheese soup was easy. Plus, I know almost nothing about German food, so it was a chance to do some research.
What I came up with was Obatzda – a tangy cheese spread, commonly found in Bavaria, and served in beer gardens. While my soup is probably closer to Liptauer, since I used farmer’s cheese, rather than a more traditional aged cheese, like Camembert, than it is to true Obatzda, it is still a knockout.
This spread is strong stuff – I made it with stout, sauerkraut, dill pickles, and quite a bit of cayenne. That shouldn’t be a surprise; it’s obvious by now that I’m really not about subtle flavors. I blended my obatzda with a stout-simmered base of caramelized onions, beet and carrots, and garnished it all with homemade black bread croutons. It’s rich, and pleasantly bitter – the bitterness of a cold winter day spent outside.
Much of the winter in the Pacific Northwest, we have grey sky, rain, mud, and temperatures in the 40’s. But for snow, as on Sunday, life comes to a halt. I made the soup early in the day, right after breakfast, and we reheated it for dinner, after our long, snowy amble along the beach with the dogs.