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A Pot o’ Gold: Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup


When it comes to culinary heritage, I claim the closest affinity with the Slavs thanks to the maternal side of my family tree. With a name like Molly Marie Sheridan, I don’t feel too obnoxious trying to get in on a little of that luck of the Irish as well, however, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. Exercising an American flexibility when it comes to culture is useful like that.

My celebration of the day here in Baltimore is a far cry from the festivities put on at my last address. Instead, this year I went the monastic route and turned to my copy of Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, pulling out a recipe for Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup from the “March” chapter. Despite the name, at first I hesitated, not generally being a fan of dishes that hide their vegetables under cheese. But if it was good enough for the monks, surely it should be good enough for me, no? Plus, I had buttermilk in the fridge that was crying out to be turned into a fresh soda bread as accompaniment, so ahead full steam I charged.

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup recipe

Vegetable sizes being so variable, I added more carrot and potato than the recipe called for but which seemed to suite the 6 cups of broth. Having taken no religious vows, I also got crazy and doubled all the seasonings aside from the salt, which I omitted entirely (the strategic penance of a once-Catholic?). The cheese and broth seemed to provide plenty of taste-popping sodium on their own.

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup ingredients

As I swallowed my first taste of the finished pot, the memories of every terrible bowl of broccoli cheddar soup I had ever eaten melted away–a Saint Patrick’s Day culinary conversion.

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup
based on a recipe from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups

2 leeks, sliced
6 small potatoes, cubed
6 thin carrots, sliced
4 T butter
6 cups vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1 cup milk
5 oz. grated Kerrygold Irish Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste (like I said, mine needed no additional salt, so be sure to taste before adding)

Saint Patrick Irish Cheddar Soup ingredients

Melt butter in a stock pot. Add vegetables and saute for several minutes. Then add broth, garlic, and seasoning, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors merged, about 30 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and puree.

Add milk and cheese and continue stirring until cheese has melted. The soup should still be plenty hot enough to do so, but return to heat if necessary, taking care not to allow it to boil.

Serve hot with a hearty bread. This one is excellent and speedy, if a suggestion is needed.

Kiss Me, I’m Irish (and I Baked the Soda Bread)


Last Christmas I was gifted a heavenly amount of King Arthur flour, and as we cruise into Christmas 2011, I can’t help but reflect on all the bread and pizza and pies it has been turned into over the past twelve months. However, a package of Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour somehow wedged itself behind some boxes in the pantry and was forgotten about completely until this past weekend. Conveniently, the back of the bag offered a tempting recipe for soda bread, but it required buttermilk. I didn’t have any, but what does fresh Irish Soda bread need more than anything? Good butter, of course. So I decided I would knock down two pins with one throw, as it were, and make my own butter while using the reserved buttermilk for the bread. That would be so cool. You can totally do that, right? Well….

On reflection and after some further study, I realize that I made a miscalculation. As I did not gather my milk over many days in the barn before churning it, nor did I culture it (as a store-bought product would have been processed), my buttermilk was probably missing the acidic quality that you’re looking for when triggering your soda bread chemical reaction. That said, even if my bread could have been lighter and fluffier, its rough wheat character still tastes great and is quite satisfying–especially toasted and topped with a schmear of fresh dill butter.

And next time, I guess I’ll forgo the DIY heroics and just buy a bottle of buttermilk at the store like a normal person.

Irish Brown Bread

Irish Brown Bread
adapted from the package of King Arthur Irish Wheat flour

4 cups Irish-Style Wholemeal Flour (I needed a bit more, probably due to my buttermilk snafu)
2 T sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons oil

Preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to evenly incorporate. Pour the buttermilk and oil into dry ingredients and quickly stir together into a shaggy dough, kneading just a bit with your hands to pull it together into ball.

Move the prepared dough onto the baking sheet and score a deep cross into the top with a large bread knife. Sprinkle the top with a mix of sesame and poppy seed, if you like, and place in the hot oven for 40 minutes or until the top is browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Irish Brown Bread