Cheddar Cheese Soup with Pretzel Croutons

Serves 6

Some of the deliciousness from this recipe comes from the roasted vegetables. To roast them, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place vegetables in an even layer on a low-sided baking sheet or cookie sheet. Spray them lightly with cooking spray. Roast in the oven until shriveled and somewhat blackened, about 20 – 30 minutes. * To roast the garlic, slice the top of the head of garlic with a knife. Place it on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle the top with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes. After it is cool, squeeze the garlic out of the skin.

2 Poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped (or green peppers)
2 red peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, roasted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, roasted, peeled and smashed
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups vegetable stock
1-1/2 cups whole or lowfat milk
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
3 cups coarsely chopped pretzels, preferably the thick twisted ones

Garnish: extra olive oil to drizzle, cheddar cheese, and chopped green onion
Peel chiles under running water, remove seeds and chop. Chop the cooled onion and smash the roasted garlic. Set aside.
Place butter in a medium saucepan and melt. Add flour and stir for 2 – 3 minutes making a light roux (a thickener). Add the chiles, onion and garlic to the pot and stir. Slowly whisk in the vegetable stock, milk and heavy cream. Bring soup to a low boil, then turn the heat down so that the soup barely simmers for 20 minutes. Begin adding cheddar cheese by a half cup increments stirring after each addition. Add the cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Soup should be thick and flavorful. Ladle soup into bowls and top with pretzel croutons, grated cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.

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