Each year, the Netherlands produces 650 million kilograms of cheese and archaeologists have even found remains of cheese making equipment in Holland dating back to 200BC. So it’s no wonder that one of the nation’s most beloved dishes is cheese soup. But not just any cheese, boerenkaas cheese. Meaning farmer’s cheese, boerenkaas is a regulated form of gouda – it must be made using raw, unpasteurised milk from a smaller-scale farm to ensure artisan production. Traditionally, the soup is topped with fried bread, covered with boerenkaas and then grilled until melting and oozy. Here, we’ve used regular gouda and melted it on bread, toasted in bacon fat, to serve.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 60 g butter
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 2 waxy potatoes (such as desiree), peeled, cut into 1 cm cubes
- ½ (300g) small celeriac, peeled, cut into 1cm cubes
- 1.25 litres (5 cups) chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 carrots, cut into 1 cm pieces
- ½ small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 6 shortcut bacon rashers, roughly chopped
- 6 thin slices sourdough
- 180 g (1½ cups) coarsely grated gouda
- 1 bunch chives, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add onion, potatoes and celeriac. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion has softened.
Stir in chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, carrot and cauliflower, and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Transfer 2 cups of slightly cooled mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth then return to soup. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a large, lightly greased frying pan over high heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towel. In the same pan, add bread slices and toast in bacon fat for 2 minutes on each side or until browned.
Preheat grill to high. Scatter bread with cheese and grill for 3 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
Divide soup among serving bowls. Scatter with bacon and chives and serve with cheese breads. Alternatively, roughly chop bread and bake for 12 minutes in a moderate oven. Sprinkle over soup, scatter with cheese and grill for 3 minutes or until cheese is golden.
Photography by Chris Chen. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Food styling by Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, August 2014, Issue 34.