Cold, rainy days are perfect for warm, hearty soups. One of my favorites is cheddar ale made with a nice hoppy brew. If I would have had some pretzel bread, I would have made bread bowls and served this soup in a pretzel bread bowl. Cheese, beer, pretzels and bacon… the four basic food groups!
Here’s what I did:
4 slices bacon
4 tablespoons salted butter
½ cup minced onion
½ cup minced carrot
½ cup minced celery
1 small bay leaf
1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached.)
1 (12-ounce) bottle ale (I used Schlafly Dry Hopped APA.)
2 cups half-and-half
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pound Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 4 cups)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste.
1. In skillet, cook bacon until crisp; crumble and set aside.
2. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter; add onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are translucent and softened, about 4 minutes.
3. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes longer.
4. Gradually whisk in ale and chicken broth; stirring until mixture is bubbling and thickened.
5. Remove bay leaf and transfer to blender. Purée until smooth. Return to pan and add dry mustard and cream. Bring soup to simmer, stirring often so it doesn’t scorch on bottom of pan.
6. Add cheese a handful at a time; stir until cheese is melted and soup is hot, but do not let soup boil. Remove from heat, remove and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve topped with crumbled bacon.