This is from a "Cooks Illustrated" email. Haven't tried it yet.
Published: March 1, 2002
Makes about 7 cups, serving 4 to 6
This soup isnít the best candidate for making in advance. Reheat the soup in a saucepan over low heat, whisking gently to prevent the soup from separating. Do not bring above a bare simmer.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion , minced (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot , minced (about 1/3 cup)
1 small rib celery , minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium clove garlic , minced
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 bay leaf
pinch cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons dry sherry
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper
1. Heat butter in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat until foaming; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add carrot, celery, and garlic; cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring to coat vegetables, until mixture begins to brown on bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and half-and-half and add bay leaf. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.
2. Off heat, add cayenne and sherry; cool soup for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in cheese and thyme; season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.