This recipe comes from S, who found it at Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.
It’s creamy, so not quite as hearty as others, but you can’t really go wrong with a good warm soup during the winter months. And to top it off (literally), we made croutons using a fresh loaf of sourdough. Almost everything is locally sourced, though I’m still waiting to find that elusive Worcestershire plant.
Cheddar Ale Soup
6 thick-cut bacon slices, cut into smallish pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup flour
1 cup pale ale
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded
Salt & pepper, to taste
croutons (optional, for garnish)
Set a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a plate.
Add the butter and let it melt, then toss in the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic, cooking just until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently (you’re just trying to get the raw flour flavor cooked off). It will get pretty sticky. Add the beer and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a thick paste, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the Worcestershire sauce, milk and chicken broth, stirring until smooth. Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat and continue simmering for 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender (you can also use a traditional blender, but an immersion blender is a super handy tool; I’d highly recommend it if you don’t have one).
Set the pan over medium-low heat and, stirring constantly, add the cheese a little at a time. Be careful not to allow the soup to boil. Continue until you’ve added all of the cheese and the soup is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the bacon and croutons (we also chopped up some green onions for garnish).
To make the croutons, cut a loaf or half-loaf into rough 1-inch cubes, place on a baking sheet, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.