3 tablespoon(s) Butter
1 medium Onion(s), minced
1 small Shallot(s), minced
1 medium Carrot(s), diced
1 small Celery, stalk(s), diced
1 Garlic clove(s), minced
2 tablespoon(s) Flour
2 1/2 cup(s) Chicken stock
2 1/2 cup(s) Half and Half
1 Bay leaf(s)
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
3 tablespoon(s) Sherry, dry
3 cup(s) Cheddar cheese, sharp, shredded
1/2 teaspoon Thyme, dried
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat until foaming. Add the onion and shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring to coat the vegetables, until the mixture begins to brown on the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the chicken stock and half-and-half. Add the bay leaf and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the cayenne and sherry and allow to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Slowly whisk in the cheese and thyme until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
For Smoked Cheddar Cheese with Bacon version………..
Cut 4 bacon slices crosswise into 1/4-inch strips and fry in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Follow the recipe for Cheddar Cheese Soup (above), substituting the bacon fat in the pot for the butter; substituting 6 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded (about 11/2 cups), for an equal amount of sharp cheddar cheese; and reducing sherry to 2 tablespoons.