After discovering the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company’s Alehouse Cheddar last weekend, I was inspired. I wanted a huge bowl of creamy cheesy soup with a strong ale punch. I could have just grated up the block I brought home, turned it into soup form and be done. But no way was I ready to part with my alehouse cheddar that quickly! I needed something that picked up the same flavors but didn’t make me sacrifice my cheese.
What I love about making soups, is they generally start the same. Carrots, celery, onions, garlic and broth. Plus some potatoes if you’re looking for a chunkier texture. And milk or cream for a cream soup. I ended up making the base of the soup first, sans the milk, plus some ale, and pureeing it first. Then it was easy enough to whisk in the cheese and milk and keep the texture creamy, not gritty. Then when the soup was just about finished, I added the rest of the ale to make sure the flavor was intense. I went with Southampton’s Burton IPA. It’s dry but still full bodied and had some nice malty characteristics. I know the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company used Harpoon’s IPA in the alehouse cheddar, so I was aiming for an IPA, but I think a dark lager or brown ale would work just as well. Paired with a simple tossed salad to balance out the richness of the soup, it was the perfect fall meal.
Cheddar Ale Soup
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
- 2 tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 4 c vegetable broth
- 1 12oz bottle of ale, divided
- 3 c sharp cheddar, grated
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 c milk (I used whole)
In a large dutch oven melt butter over high heat. Add onions and garlic and garlic and saute until translucent. Add carrots and celery and continue sauteing for another 5-7 minutes until carrots slightly soften. Add potatoes, salt, pepper, half the beer and broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth. It will be pretty thick!
In the mean time, toss cheddar in a separate bowl with cornstarch. This helps the cheddar not clump when mixed in the soup and also guarantees smooth texture when melting. Heat the pureed soup over medium heat and add in milk and rest of ale. Once soup returns to a boil, gradually add cheddar, whisking constantly so melted cheese blends. Once all cheese is added, simmer for another 5 minutes, whisking occasionally to ensure smooth texture. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve it in a really adorable soup tureen! Sorry, off topic…
TIP: The soup is still tasty the next day. I generally like leftovers better because the flavors tend to meld better. The soup is really thick after refrigerating so I recommend reheating in on the stove over low heat. Use a whisk to mix the soup and break it up, then add another 1/2 cup or so of milk (I went with skim this time) until you get the desired consistency. You want it heated through, but don’t let it boil!
- My Weekend in Vermont (brooklynlocavore.wordpress.com)
- Recipe: Broccoli Cheddar Beer Soup in a Bread Bowl (domestocrat.wordpress.com)
- 15 Fall Recipes (acedarspoon.com)