Monday, May 5, 2008

Excuse me sir, there's a beer in my soup!

I like cheese. A lot. When I worked at the Mill (in Birmingham), there was a soup that was made every day called Cheddar Ale. I loved this soup so much, I really could not get enough of it. Unfortunately, I didn't ever see the cooks make the soup, so I couldn't tell you what was in it except beer and cheese. I found an Emeril recipe, and I replicated it (mostly), but I'll tell you now it was not that great.

My first mistake was the type of beer. I used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale because they sell individual bottles of this at Target. If I had been thinking harder, I would have remembered that, at the Mill, they used a much darker beer. I think it was either a bock or a porter, though I think a porter would make more sense with Cheddar cheese. Anyway, here's the recipe I used:

4 ounces bacon, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup flour
12 ounces of beer, pale ale
1 quart chicken stock
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
Salt & pepper to taste

Brown the bacon in the soup pot. Remove excess grease. Add the butter, onions, and celery to the pot with the bacon and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Dust the flour over vegetables and bacon, cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Stir in the beer, and then the stock.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Notes: So I already told you you probably don't want to use a pale ale. The Sierra Nevada made mine taste saltier than it actually was. And though this soup had a good consistency, the kind at the Mill was much thicker. Also, I suggest using an immersion blender to process the vegetable bits so you get a creamier soup.

I will do some more experimenting. If I get it right, I'll post the recipe.
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