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There’s nothing nicer than a warming soup in the cold weather – apart from if it also contains cheese.  I should warn you, I’m a cheese fanatic I’ve met very few cheeses I don’t like!  And adding them to soup brings that whole taste sensation to the goodness of the dish.  But there are some best practices (we won’t call them rules, sounds boring) around using the best cheeses for easy cheese soup recipes.  Want to know more?

How to choose your cheese

Whether you decide to use cheese as a main ingredient or simply as a garnish, there’s a bit of thought needed to choose your cheese.  Not all cheeses work well in soups – sometimes it because of their texture, how well they melt or just their taste.

So which are the best cheeses for easy cheese soup recipes?  These are a few examples:

1.      Parmesan

Properly called Parmigiano-Reggiano, this is the top cheese for soups (or many other things, I love it melted on potatoes!)  It adds a slight saltiness to the flavour and is very rich but doesn’t go gooey or stringy.  You can even add the rind to your soup although I would prefer that if it was a creamed soup.

2.      Gruyere

Gruyere became soup famous for the part it plays in French Onion soup but that’s just the start.  It has a nutty, earthy and almost a little sweet flavour and works well with vegetable soups and similar, earthy recipes.  Watch how much you use as it is a gooey one when it melts!

3.      Cheddar

If you raid the cheese box in our house, you will always find cheddar in it.  This is such a versatile cheese and there are different colours and strengths.  We normally use a mature but not extra mature one so there’s plenty of taste but not too strong.  It is used in soups from cream of mushroom style soups to shredded chicken Mexican soups.  It melts well and makes for a smooth and rich soup.

easy cheese soup recipes - mixture of different cheeses
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4.      Queso Fresco or Halloumi

Here in the UK, queso fresco isn’t something we know so well but basically, it means a fresh cheese that doesn’t have a rind.  It softens in soup but doesn’t completely melt.  A similar style of cheese is halloumi which goes a bit stringy but doesn’t entirely melt.

5.      Manchego

Manchego is a Spanish cheese that has a salty and buttery flavour but isn’t too strong.  It is an ideal cheese to garnish with, being grated over vegetable soups or also ones that contain meats like sausage.

How to avoid lumpy soups

Some soup recipes are born to be lumpy – vegetable soup is a classic example.  But there are times when you don’t want lumps, or you don’t want lumps of cheese, anyway.  Cheese can be prone to lumping so is there anything you can do to avoid this?

Choosing the right cheese for cooking is one of the tips.  Examples above show some cheeses that will melt politely into the mix while others get gooey.  It is also a good idea to grate the cheese where possible as the smaller bits will melt easier than lumps or pieces of cheese.

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Watch your temperature when cooking cheese soup recipes.  Anything over 150F or 65C can make the cheese dry out and this makes it harder to melt.  Try a lower heat setting when adding the cheese until it is melted.

Finally, if you have a cheese prone to lumps but you really want to use it, sprinkle it on top at the end of cooking or even when serving.  Then it doesn’t matter!

Famous types of cheese soups

There are quite a few famous cheese soups or soups with cheese from around the world.  Some have cheese front and centre of the recipe while others feature it to add to the other ingredients.

  • Blue cheese soup – this is an Irish dish that uses blue cheese such as Stilton
  • Broccoli & cheese soup – often this pairs the vegetable with Stilton but broccoli and cheddar is a tasty variation
  • Caldo de queso – Sonoran cheese soup
  • Cheddar soup – usually made with white cheddar
  • Churu – Tibetan soup made with mould-ripened Churu cheese or sometimes with a blue cheese
  • Cottage cheese soup – made with cottage cheese
  • Mote de queso – Colombian cheese soup chowder made with yam and cheese
  • Mozzarella soup – made with the classic pizza cheese
  • Nacho cheese soup – made with the same kinds of cheese used to make cheesy nachos

Easy cheese soup recipes

To finish, here are a couple of easy cheese soup recipes to get you started on your next cheese buy session.

Beer Cheese Soup

This is one where that tip about cooking longer on a lower temperature applies to get the perfect, smooth and lump-free soup.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 c. heavy (double) cream
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, cut into chunks and softened
  • 16 oz. sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
  • 2 t. Dijon mustard
  • 2 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 oz. mild-flavoured beer
  • ¼ c. chopped red onion, soaked in water (optional)

Directions

Add unsalted butter to a Dutch oven (or a deep pan with a lid) over medium heat. Once melted, add carrot, celery, onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 8-10 minutes.

Add flour and stir until completely incorporated. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes.

Stir in chicken stock and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for approximately 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove from heat and blend mixture with an immersion blender until smooth, if you have one. If not, transfer the liquid to a blender and blend until completely smooth. Work in batches if necessary.

Once smooth, return mixture to the Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the heavy cream, goat cheese, and half the cheddar cheese. Stir continually until cheese is completely melted. Add the remaining cheddar cheese and stir until melted.

Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and beer and stir until blended. If soup is too thick at this point, add a little additional chicken or vegetable stock. Continuing simmering on medium-low heat another 5-10 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve immediately with soft pretzel rolls or crusty bread of your choice. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, red onion, and/or popcorn.

Cauliflower & Goats Cheese Soup

Cauliflower cheese is a well-known side dish for roast meats, but it can also be adapted into a soup.  The goats cheese is used in place of things like cheddar to add a different flavour, but you could swap in a favourite cheese that melts well.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, rinsed, tough outer leaves removed
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 green onions, rinsed, roots and dried ends removed
  • 2 t. dried parsley
  • 2-3 T. water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 c. organic chicken or vegetable stock, divided
  • 4 oz. log goat cheese, cut into chunks

Optional Garnish:

  • Sliced green onions, green parts only
  • Crumbled bacon

Directions:

Cut up the cauliflower, stems included, into small pieces and place in a large colander. Rinse thoroughly under running water and let drain briefly when finished.

Place cauliflower in a large, microwave-safe dish with garlic, the white part of the green onions, and the dried parsley. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Cover container and microwave on high until the cauliflower is fork tender, approximately 6-7 minutes. (Actual cooking time will vary depending on microwave strength and the amount of cauliflower used, so test after 4 minutes and adjust cooking time accordingly).

Remove from microwave, and fill blender container nearly half full with the steamed cauliflower mixture. Add 1 cup stock to the blender and blend until smooth. (Make sure the blender lid is adequately vented to allow steam to escape before turning on the blender).

Pour cauliflower puree into a large soup pot and repeat with the remaining steamed cauliflower mixture and stock until it has all been pureed and transferred to the pot.

Turn heat to medium and cook until the cauliflower mixture is heated through, about 5-6 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Add the goat cheese and stir until blended. Cook another minute or two, or until the soup is uniformly heated. If soup is too thick, add additional stock to reach the desired consistency. If it is too thin, continue cooking until excess moisture has been reduced.

Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately topped with sliced green onion or crumbled bacon.

You could also easily adapt this to a soup maker recipe and cut down on the microwaving.  Go for a ‘creamed’ soup setting to save moving it to a blender and to get a creamy, smooth finish.

Warming and tasty

Soups made with cheese are warming and tasty.  There are lots of different ideas and you can also experiment with a favourite cheese or a stronger variation if you love the taste.  And you get to enjoy cheese, so that’s always a good thing.

What’s your favourite cheese?  And do you have a cheese soup recipe that you love?  Pop it in the comments!!

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