I've made this several times and it's always a hit. by AJD on 02/14/2013
*Nutrition analysis based on Cabot Sharp Cheddar.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 medium)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
8 ounces Cabot Sharp Cheddar or Extra Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups), plus extra for garnish*
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Garlic croutons (optional)
1. In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add flour and stir for 1 minute longer.
2. Remove from heat. Add tomatoes, crushing each into smaller pieces with your hand as you add; add remaining liquid from can and stir tomatoes into onion mixture until well combined. Add chicken or vegetable broth, half-and-half or milk and thyme; stir together well.
3. Return to heat and bring to boil. Adjust heat to maintain simmer, cover pot and cook soup for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure nothing is sticking to bottom of pot.
4. Remove from heat. Remove and discard thyme stems. Add cheese a handful at a time, stirring each time until cheese is melted.
5. Puree soup in blender in two batches until smooth. Return to pot. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Place over medium-high heat and stir until heated through. Serve topped with additional grated cheddar, plus garlic croutons if desired.