Cheddar Ale Soup with Bacon & Croutons
Adapted from my friends at Cabot Creamery. (Just for the record: Cabot makes some dang good cheddar cheese.)
Last Friday we went to Granite City Brewery for my friend’s birthday lunch. My friend and a couple others at the table ordered a cup of their cheddar ale soup. I hadn’t even thought about beer cheese soup for ages, and there it was: staring me in the face. My friends were very much enjoying their cup of soup which made me leave the restaurant with a craving for cheddar ale soup implanted in the back of my mind.
Over time, this craving got worse and worse until I just HAD to make some. I have loved, tasted, and made beer cheese soup many times in my life and don’t really need a recipe anymore, but decided to do a quick search for cheddar ale soup on the ‘net. The first recipe that caught my eye was from Cabot Creamery. A while ago, Cabot sent me some of their cheddar to try and it was mighty good, so I figured they probably know how to make a pretty good cheddar ale soup too.
The trick to making this soup taste REALLY GOOD is the choice of the cheese and the beer that you use. Use a really good cheddar and a tasty ale that you love and you will love the results. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive … just choose a cheese and a beer that YOU enjoy and that will almost ensure a soup that you will love too. For the croutons, I toasted some of my leftover focaccia (that I had made without the tomatoes) and it was fabulous. The bread doesn’t necessarily have to be homemade, but I do recommend you use a bread that you really love, too, if you want this soup to be a soup to remember.
- 1 - 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped, peeled sweet onion
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (include the leaves!)
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup ale
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup low fat milk (I used 1%)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (such as Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar)
- 1 - 2 slices lean, cooked bacon, chopped roughly
- Fresh ground black pepper and salt, to taste
- a few thick slices of good bread, extra shredded cheddar cheese, a few bits of crumbled bacon & some snipped chives or green onion tops.
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil just for a minute to warm, then add the onion, celery and carrot and saute until the onion is soft & translucent.
- Stir in the flour to coat all the veggies, then add the dry mustard, the bay leaf, the ale and broth and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the soup is thickened. Stir in the milk and cheese and cook just briefly to melt the cheese.
- Pull out the bay leaf and stir in the bacon. Now, either use an immersion blender directly in the pot to blend till smooth or let cool briefly, then blend in a blender and reheat. (If using a blender with hot liquids, be VERY careful! Cover the blender with a towel, pulse very briefly a couple times to release the steam, let out any air pressure, then re-cover with the towel and blend till smooth.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toast a couple thick slices of bread and cut into cubes. Pour the soup into oven-proof bowls and add 4 - 6 bread cubes per bowl, sprinkle the bread with some shredded cheddar cheese, then a few bits of bacon. Set the bowls in the oven and bake for 5 - 10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted. Sprinkle with a few snipped chives or green onion tops. Serve immediately.
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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