I often joke that the only reason I eat French onion soup is for the melted cheese. What can I say? I love cheese. I took a 10-day trip through the Burgundy region of France in 2006 with my culinary school class. Each day ended with a group meal, which usually included a cheese course. Once back home, I lobbied to include a cheese course with our family meals at home, but nobody else seemed to realize what an awesome idea it was.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I came across a soup on the blog Fried Ice and Donut Holes which includes a large amount of melted cheese. And a not-so-large amount of beer. And bacon.
And with temperatures plummeting in our area to the coldest it’s been in four years, with temperatures in the teens, there was no better time to make soup.
It’s a delicious soup, and very easy to make. It didn’t last long enough to attempt freezing it, so I can’t say whether it freezes well or not. I served this with mini French rolls on the side for dipping.
Cheddar Ale Soup
Barely adapted from Fried Ice and Donut Holes
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pale ale (I used Pennsylvania Pale Ale)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ¼lb grated sharp Cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 scallion, sliced, for garnish (optional)
- In a large stockpot set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon strips until crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Reserve 2 tbsp of the rendered bacon fat and discard the rest.
- Melt the butter with the bacon fat in the stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, and stir to coat. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beer and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire, milk, and chicken broth. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat back down to medium-low and cook at a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add the cheese to the soup and stir until smooth; the heat from the warm soup should melt the cheese. If it doesn’t, set the pot over low heat to melt the cheese. Do not let the soup boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with bacon strips and scallions, if desired.
Number of servings (yield): 6