Saturday, November 9, 2013

Amy Thielen

Amy Thielen is a classically trained chef who has cooked in some of New York's finest restaurants for seven years. She develops recipes and is the author of The New Midwestern Table cookbook and is the new Food Network star of " Heartland Table." The show is filmed in Amy Thielen's home kitchen in Two Inlets, near Park Rapids, MN. 

I was quite surprised when her book recently arrived in my mailbox since I had not ordered it. My brother-in-law who has followed my blog from time to time knew I would enjoy this book. Indeed he was correct. What an unexpected lovely gift! 
Midwestern Table is hefty in size weighing in at over 2 LBS. The book is jam packed. It features 200 updated classic recipes with some 150 photographs that capture the fresh-from-the-land dishes and the striking beauty of the Up North country. The recipes feature Midwestern cooking like our grandmothers used to do but with modern freshness. Her cuisine is thrifty, intuitive and seasonal.  

The book is a cross between a memoir, a travelogue and a cookbook. I particularly enjoyed the photographs and her personal family stories that accompanied the recipes.  Since Amy lives in an area close to where we are at the lake I could readily identify with her observations about the people, area and foods.  

Amy is a seasonal cook who takes advantage of the foods she grows and harvests. In the book's introduction Amy discussed how she arrived at choosing the recipes to be included in the book. She tried to be practical as well as innovative. Amy said, "I decided to stick to my own small-town limits: if I couldn't find ingredients at either my local grocery stores, and it couldn't be found in the garden, the yard, or the surrounding woods, it didn't go in the book."
Her cooking inspiration comes from a love of the Midwest and her ancestral roots.  

I decided to embrace Amy's practical side and chose a recipe from the book where I had all the ingredients readily available and it did not require a grocery store run. 
Best-Ever Beer Cheese Soup
Cook's notes: The recipe was adapted to serve 4.  I did add in one small cooked potato, (leftover from a previous meal) celery, garlic and onion to the list of ingredients. The soup was creamy, rich with the aromas of white cheddar cheese, vegetables with a hint of beer. The soup tasted even better the second day. Use more chicken stock on day two as soup will thicken. 
  • 3 TB. butter
  • 1/2 cup each of the following carrots, onion, celery and red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small cooked cubed potato
  • 1/3 cup of flour (a little under)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 1/2 bottle of pale ale (6 oz)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 6 oz. grated aged white cheddar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • a dash hot sauce
  • a dash of nutmeg
  • 1 TB. Dijon mustard 
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • In a large soup/stockpot melt butter over medium heat
  • Add in carrots, celery, pepper and minced garlic
  • Stir till vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes
  • Add in flour and stir until well Incorporated about 5 minutes 
  • Add in stock, beer (pour it in slowly so doesn't foam up) and half and half
  • Whisk often as it simmers over medium low heat for 15 minutes
  • Add in cheese by handfuls, whisking after each batch till smooth
  • Add in Worcestershire, hot sauce, mustard, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt and pepper  
  • Stir to combine
  • Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth
  • Return soup mixture to stockpot and keep warm on a low setting uncovered till serving 
Serve with bread sticks or a crusty Artisan bread 


  1. This soup sounds really really good and easy to make.

  2. We are cooking through her book on Facebook. We're making the soup this week!


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