But I will offer up one of my favorite recipes, Beer Cheese Soup. It's a combination of the Cheddar Cheese Soup found in the Weight Watchers cookbook All in One Pot and a couple of dashes of inspiration from a resturant beer cheese soup. My mom was a waitress there and it was one of my favorite things to eat, but with this version, it's much healthier, and while it's actually less cheesy than just a generic cheese soup, it's really flavorful thanks to the veggies and spices and the beer. Of course, the beer can be supplanted by additional milk if you prefer.
I tried as best I could to get exact measurements, I don't really measure out my spices and add them to taste, I'm very heavy on things like garlic and paprika because I really, really love it. So you can change things according to your own tastes - and please do so, that's the best part of cooking.
This recipe combines a restaurant’s secret recipe for their beer cheese soup and a healthier alternative. The outcome? Perfect for cold wintry days (and nights).
1 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 lbs baking potatoes, diced small/medium
5 slices center-cut bacon (optional)
2 cups milk (I always use 2% because that's what we have in the fridge)
2 bottles of beer (note: do not use dark beers because they overpower the flavor)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, crushed in hand
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoons ground mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
a few strands crushed saffron, optional
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
2 to 3 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Heat dutch oven over medium high heat. Cooked bacon thoroughly, until very crispy. Set bacon aside. Drain dutch oven of most of bacon fat, leaving a small amount (a teaspoon or just a bit more) and swirl in olive oil (so a teaspoon of olive oil if there’s a tsp of bacon fat remaining). Alternately, just add olive oil and proceed to the next step.
Cook garlic and onion first, stirring quickly for about a minute, then add carrots and celery. At this point, add about a teaspoon or so of Worcestershire sauce. Add any spices – garlic powder, paprika, mustard, saffron, and pepper at this time and throughout the cooking time for several minutes until the veggies are slightly browned.
Add potatoes and stock (enough to cover veggies) and a bit more pepper if needed; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
When vegetables are tender and cooked thoroughly, turn off stove and take off heat. By using a food processor or blender, the soup will be pureed into a creamy consistency. For blender – firstly chop, then puree, and liquefy if necessary to get this consistency. This must be creamy and thick by the end of the process – a bit like a carroty bisque and will appear to be quite carrot-orange in color by this point.
After all of the soup has been blended evenly, return to the dutch oven and reheat at a low heat. Pour in the beer and milk, keeping it at a low simmer until the alcohol has evaporated, leaving the flavor behind.
Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cheese, allowing it to melt thoroughly into the soup. Do taste it and add crushed Kosher salt if needed or Worcestershire sauce or any additional black pepper.
Serves 8 (which means leftovers, yay!)