Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The perfect Super Bowl soup

Ed Levine, the editor of the web site Serious Eats, commented in a Tweet this week that the Super Bowl is almost as much of a food holiday as Thanksgiving. And I think he has a point.

My colleague Andrea Weigl has a roundup of recipes from both Pittsburgh and Wisconsin on this week's food front, all worthy contenders for Sunday's Super Bowl parties.

But before you chisel your menu in stone, I wanted to offer one more. I ran this with last year's Super Bowl package that I think may just be the perfect football-watching soup. I got a reminder at a Christmas party this year when I ran into a woman I had never met. When I told her what I do for a living, she grabbed my arm and said, with real excitement, "Do you know about the Buffalo Chicken Soup?" Sure, I said - I wrote the story that ran with it.

She turned and hollered across the room at her husband. Pointing at me, she just said, "The soup! The Buffalo chicken soup!"

I get it, ma'am. And I understand - it's a terrific soup. You could double it, although it's very rich so you don't need big servings. It's just the right thing for a football afternoon in February.

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken Soup
I adapted this originally from "Make It Fast, Cook It Slow," by Stephanie O'Dea (Hyperion, 2009). Feel free to keep right on adapting it.

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 to 3 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, or 2 to 3 cups cooked, diced chicken
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups nonfat or reduced-fat milk
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup hot wing sauce, such as Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce, plus more for garnish
4 ounces Velveeta cheese, diced
Crumbled blue cheese (optional; garnish)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skilelt over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and saute about 5 minutes, until slightly soften but still crunchy. Scrape vegetables in the liner of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker and return skillet to heat.
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet and add half the chicken, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots and opaque. Add chicken to the slow cooker and repeat with remaining chicken. (If you're using cooked chicken, skip this step and just add it to the vegetables in the slow cooker.)
Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat until just foamy. Whisk in the flour to make a roux, stirring well to incorporate all the flour. Cook 1 to 2 miutes, until roux is slightly golden. Scrape the roux into the slow cooker.
Stir in the broth and milk. Add the celery salt, garlic powder and wing sauce. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Stir in the cubed Velveeta about 20 minutes before serving.
Garnish with additional wing sauce and crumbled blue cheese if using.

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