Beer Cheese Soup

Oktoberfest, Soup / Monday, October 8th, 2012

Is there anything better than warming up with a bowl of Beer Cheese Soup after a few hours of cleaning out the garage?

Oh, yes. So many things.

But, there’s a lot of pleasure in working hard and then sitting down with something delicious.

Last weekend, I decided to make a pot of soup before we braved the crazy. You start by softening your carrots, celery and onions in a big pot with mustard powder and cayenne for a little kick. Then, stir in a few spoonfuls of flour to thicken your soup, and add chicken stock, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

This soup does not lack in flavor.

Let it simmer for 15 minutes, and then pour in a bottle of pale lager. I grabbed a bottle of Sam Adams Oktoberfest, because that’s what we had in the fridge, but you could go with Yuengling, Miller High Life, PBR – just be sure to use something you like, because you WILL be tasting it. Once the soup has simmered for another five minutes, you purée all or some of it, stir in the Cheddar and gruyere until it melts, and gild the lily with a swirl of half-and-half.

The first bite is always a surprise, because you’d expect a soup with so much cheese to be sort of mellow, but this isn’t. The beer adds a nice edge that cuts through the richness, so the soup is full-flavored but doesn’t feel heavy. I wound up dunking a pretzel roll (or two) in mine, but it would be equally magnificent with some thin, buttery crostini. Or popcorn! I think that’s a Wisconsin thing, but it sounds too fun not to try it. Way more fun than collapsing cardboard boxes and evicting crickets from dark corners, but I’m a woman on a mission.

Beer Cheese Soup

Slightly adapted from Jeff Mauro (“Sandwich King” via Food Network)

Makes 6 servings (1 cup each)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bottle pale lager, such as Samuel Adams Light, Boston Lager or Oktoberfest; Yuengling; Miller High Life or Pabst Blue Ribbon
  • 2 cups shredded sharp yellow Cheddar
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • For Serving: Pretzel RollsGarlic Butter Crostini (recipe below), crusty bread or popcorn
  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, onions, mustard powder, cayenne. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Sweat the vegetables until tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.
  5. Pour in the stock, mustard and Worcestershire, and simmer until the veggies are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  6. Add the ale, simmer, about 5 minutes.
  7. Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend the soup to your desired consistency. (Traditionally, it’s pureed until smooth, but if you’d like it chunkier, just blend half or so.)
  8. Add the Cheddar, gruyere and half-and-half. Stir until melted through and smooth. Adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately with pretzel rolls, crostini, crusty bread or popcorn.

Garlic Butter Crostini

  • 1/2 baguette, sliced into 12 thin slices on the diagonal
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  1. Heat a grill pan over medium heat.
  2. Brush the baguette slices on both sides with butter, and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Grill the slices on both sides until grill marks form, about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Rub the slices with the garlic.

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