Some people would call me cheap. I don’t think that’s true. My money and I just have separation anxiety. We like to hang out, search for coupons online and can be heard saying, “I bet we could make that at home.” We like to stick together.
With that being said, there is a time of year at Walt Disney World where I will easily throw all my money at Disney without even thinking; Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I will happily hand out six dollars for a cube of meat the size of a dice. Oh, I can’t forget the pea-sized drop of sauce over it. It sounds like I’m making fun of it, but I’m really not. I freaking love it.
In past years my family has been lucky enough to live near Walt Disney World and would visit Epcot almost every day to try the different selections. Now that we live a thousand miles away, it makes it a little harder to just drop by. Believe me, if I could figure out how to turn a two-day drive into 30 minutes I would.
I love making Disney park recipes at home and I realized I could do the same with Food and Wine dishes. With so many incredible options, I thought it would be best to start with one of the festival’s most popular dishes. The Cheddar Cheese Soup first appeared in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion in 1996. The thick cheese soup has been a guest favorite at Le Cellier Steakhouse ever since officially becoming part of the festival in 2000, and is on this year’s official menu served with a pretzel roll.
Want to skip all my blah blah blahing and get right to a shorter version? I found this recipe in the cookbook called “Epcot International Food and Wine Festival – Recipes & Stories Celebrating 20 years” by Pam Brandon & The Disney Chefs. I purchased my copy in Epcot for $24.95 plus tax. Well worth the money.
Ingredients you will need:
- ½ pound of bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 3 celery ribs, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 4 Tbsps. butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 4 cups milk
- 1 pound grated white cheddar cheese
- 1 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
- 2 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup warm beer
- Chopped chives for garnish
Let’s make some soup!
1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon. The official recipe says it will take 5 minutes to get to golden brown. That’s a fairy tale because it took me about double that.
2. To the bacon pot, add in the onion, celery, and butter. Sauté the mixture until the onions soften. Again, Disney says this should take about 5 minutes but it took a good ten minutes until the celery softened a little.
3. While stirring over medium heat, slowly add the flour. Let cook for a few minutes. You really want to make sure the flour coats all the vegetables and bacon.
4. Stir in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Don’t worry that the soup becomes super watery at this point. It will really thicken up. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and let cook for 15 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly or everything will stick to the bottom. This is usually the point where I walk away to check Facebook, totally forgetting that I’m cooking anything, and everything gets stuck to the pot.
5. Add the milk to the pot and cook (but not boil) for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
6. Stir in the cheese until melted and smooth. I have an admission here to make. The recipe calls for white cheddar cheese, but I couldn’t find any so I used orange cheddar. It turned out like one of those ladies who spend way too much time tanning and become slightly more orange than they should be.
Also, in case you were wondering how much cheese a pound is, it’s one of those long bricks of cheese you will find at the grocery store. The kind you usually only buy one of because they are pricey. That’s until they are on sale and holy cow people act like there is a cheese shortage going on. People hoard them like it’s the last time cheese will ever be available. You go to the store to get one block of cheddar and come out with 2 milds, one strong, one fiesta and a block of old cheddar you will never eat. You may never eat it, but you will feel so distinguished for buying it. Yup, that’s about a pound of cheese.
7. Mix in the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
8. Mix in the warm beer.
9. Garnish with some chives.
Et voila, you and nine of your friends can enjoy the famous Epcot’s International Food and Wine Cheddar Cheese soup from Canada. If you want the authentic experience, serve it in a thimble and hand over a few dollars to a cheerful college kid.