With the arrival of Cinco de Mayo come thoughts of the completely Americanized Mexican restaurant specialty, queso, or cheese dip as we used to call it.
I, and pretty much anyone from in Memphis, grew up on a thin, cold cheese dip created by the area's first Mexican restaurant. It is still a favorite and available at local groceries in a plastic tub, and a true guilty pleasure for me. Next came Ro-tel dip, melted Velveeta cheese mixed with canned tomato and green chile mix. No teenage party was complete without it.
Then a restaurant opened in town serving the first incarnation of what was considered "authentic" Mexican food. It was the first place in town to serve fajitas. And with it came queso fundido (they title their version queso flameado). Spicy chorizo sausage covered in melty cheese, served in a hot skillet. The restaurant has been opened more than 25 years, but that dip was a game changer at the time, adding such zip and interest to an old standby.
I was thinking about that dip, and other delicious versions of queso fundido I've sought out over the years, when I created this soup. It's a flavorful and fun meal-in-a-bowl with lots of toppings and flavor addition possibilities. Start the meal with chips and salsa or guacamole and celebrate the spirit of Cinco de Mayo.
Queso Fundido Soup
9 ounces Mexican pork chorizo sausage
1 cup finely diced onion
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1-1/2cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, grated
2 small plum tomatoes
tortilla chips or strips
1. Sauté the chorizo in a Dutch oven, breaking the meat up with a spatula as you go. When the chorizo releases some of its fat, add the onion, green chiles and garlic and stir well. Cook until the chorizo is cooked through and the onions and chiles are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Stir in the chili powder and cumin. Pour in the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
3. Measure the milk in a 2-cup jug and whisk in the flour until smooth and completely dissolved. Stir the milk mixture into the soup and cook at a low bubble – not a boil – until slightly thickened. Reduce the heat to low. Reserve about a half cup of the cheese to top the soup, then stir in the remaining cheese, 1/2 cup at a time, making sure each addition is melted and smooth before adding the next.
4. Serve the soup in large bowl topped with chopped tomato, minced cilantro, a little grated cheese and some tortilla strips.
Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Creamy Hominy Bake with Green Chiles and Cheese