Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beer Cheese Soup

I feel that it is appropriate to kick off my blog with this recipe for a few reasons.  My husband, Matt, constantly jokes that he has never met anyone who loves soup as much as me.  At least a few times a week we have the  "What's for dinner?" discussion and it usually ends up with me suggesting a type of soup and Matt shutting the idea down.  He says that soup is not a meal... it is an appetizer.  BUT... this is one of the soups that he will eat until his belly is full every time.

Funny thing is that I discovered this soup while attending my Alma Mater, Ohio University in good ol' Athens, Ohio (which I must say is pretty much nothing short of a slice of heaven on earth).  For those of you who aren't familiar with this fine institution, it is a picturesque campus tucked away in southeast Ohio  and to say students "let loose" would be quite an understatement.

I lived above The Pub for two years and every Wednesday and Sunday their soup of the day was Beer Cheese Soup.  This soup was like the miracle cure for a late Saturday night shufflin' down Court Street.  My girlfriends and I would convene here almost every Sunday to recap the weekend events, bitch about the work we put off until Sunday and consume bowls of this godsend soup.     

So after graduating, I took a stab at recreating this soup and I must say, I think I might give them a run for their money.  Each time I make this soup, it brings back warm and fuzzy memories of the good times (that were definitely too short) with my fellow Bobcats.  

(Please excuse the poor quality of these pictures as they were taken with my iphone)

 You start by sauteing carrots, onions, celery and garlic in some butter and olive oil... or a little bacon fat of you have that :)  Don't worry about the size because you will be blending up all of this goodness later.  Remember to salt and pepper as you go. I always use kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Add some flour to thicken up the soup.  Cook for a few minutes to "toast" the flour.  

 Now for the good stuff... beer, mmmmm!  Be sure to deglaze pan and get all those brown bits off the bottom... That is FLAVOR.  

 Time for the chicken stock, milk and cream.  Whisk the thick mixture of veggies/flour/beer thoroughly with the liquid.  Then, pump up the heat and bring to a boil so soup can thicken.  

Your wooden spoon should look like this.  If the soup is to thin, mix up some flour and soup liquid in a bowl, pour in pot and whisk vigorously.  If it is too thick, add more milk or stock.  

Sharp cheddar goodness.... 

 Throw it all in there and whisk away!

 I seriously love this kitchen gadget.  It has been incredibly useful for my insatiable addiction to soup.  You can use a blender but when soup is hot, it just expands in the blender and squirts out the top and sides and  gives you 2nd degree burns all over you hands.  So do yourself a favor and go get one of these immersion blenders.  I promise you will thank me later.  Blend away!!!!! 

 Now time for the finished product.  Serve with oyster crackers, bacon, green onions, parsley, more cheese or whatever your little heart desires!  Preferably serve to a man because he will love you forever if you make this for him.  Seriously. 

Beer Cheese Soup 

4 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped carrots
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3/4 c. flour
1 beer (use a full-flavored beer)
3 c. low sodium chicken stock
2 c. milk
1/2 c. whipping cream
1 lb of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
(for garnish)
oyster crackers
bacon bits
parsley or green onions

Melt butter in olive oil in pan and add onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Saute until translucent.   Add flour and stir to combine.  Cook over medium-high heat for about a minute or two.  Deglaze pan with 1 beer.  Mixture will be very thick and mushy.  

Add chicken stock, milk and cream.  Quickly whisk liquids with veggies until thoroughly combined.   Bring soup to a boil.  This is important as that is when the soup will thicken the most.  Determine if you need to thicken it more or thin it out.  Mixture should thickly coat a wooden spoon.  

Add shredded cheese and whisk to combine.  Use immersion blender and blend until soup is smooth.  Cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes then serve with garnishes of choice.  
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