Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cheddar Beer Soup

You can make SOUP out of THOSE?

This past winter, I was the busiest I have ever been in my life, working full time and rehearsing 5 nights a week, and I had little time to eat and enjoy myself, much less sleep. C invites me over for a late night surprise dinner, and I arrive to Cheddar-Beer Soup. I had Beer and Cheese soup once before, in a pub-grub in Helena, MT, and back then I thought it was revolutionary. I was only then beginning to drink beer for taste. Like wine, cooking with beer is meant to enhance the food. And it's undeniable. Here's the link to the recipe we used.

We made it again a few weeks ago, only this time we used Dubliner Irish Cheddar with Whiskey, changed the chicken broth for beef broth, and had to settle for a Leffe ale, instead of Bass. (They were out. Stupid Ralphs.)

The recipe calls for dry mustard, and we thought there was a can of Colman's laying around, but it appeared there had been a mustard powder theft. (Suspect? Former roommate. Motives? Clear. Investigation? Concluded.) So, we used some grainy wet mustard instead. This would also work if you are making homemade mac and cheese as well.

As for the bacon garnish, well, why wouldn't you want extra bacon in your soup? Bacon enthusiasts at your service. Bacon appetizers? Great plan. We will cook more to eat more.

2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups)
4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled


Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally,

until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.

Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Discard bay leaf.

Serve sprinkled with bacon.


This soup is incredibly rich, and is perfect served with fresh bread and a bottle of beer (preferably the one
cooked with). Beer, cheese, and bread are practically cousins, much of their flavor from yeast and fermentation.
To lighten things up, I made a simple Spinach Salad. For dessert we had Balsamic Strawberries with Angel Food Cake.

Cook this soup. You will slip into a cheesy coma,

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