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Beer and Vegetable Cheese Soup with Bacon

Posted Nov 16 2009 12:00am


Though my family has been residing in Pennsylvania for about 3 years now, we were all born and raised in Wisconsin. And while there is a lot about Pennsylvania that we love, we still have "The Frozen Tundra" running through our veins. We're all die hard Green Bay Packer fans, we love the Friday night fish fry and it's not a summer cookout without some bratwurst that's been simmered in onions and a good local Milwaukee beer before being grilled.

I think most people have heard Wisconsin called the "Dairy State" because of the large amount of cheese and other dairy goods that are produced there. Milwaukee, Wisconsin's largest city, was also once known as "The Beer Capitol of the World" because several well known breweries operated there.

So, you've got beer, you've got cheese... what do you do? You make soup! If there was such a thing as an official State soup, I'd bet that beer cheese soup would be Wisconsin's. For my family this soup is a little bit of comfort for those times when we're missing our hometown. I hope you'll enjoy this soup as much as we do!



Ingredients:
½ pound bacon
¾ Cup butter
1 Cup carrot, finely chopped
1 Cup celery, finely chopped
1 Cup onion, finely chopped
1 Cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
6 Cups chicken broth
2 Cups Wondra quick mixing flour
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Cups heavy cream
8 Cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese
12 ounces beer

Method:
1: In skillet fry bacon, drain, cool, crumble and set aside.

2: In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, red pepper and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.

3: Add broth to the cooked vegetables. Add salt, paprika, black and cayenne peppers. Slowly stir in Wondra flour. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil and stir constantly for 1 minute.

4: Stir in cream and cheese. Heat until cheese is melted. Stir in crumbled bacon and beer. Serve Immediately.

Makes 10-12 servings


Kitchen Notes:
* If the idea of all that heavy cream is too much for you, you could subsitute half and half or even milk. The end result will not be as creamy, but still very good.

* I like to omit the butter and use the bacon grease for cooking the vegetables instead sometimes. Again if the amount of fat and calories alarms you, using olive oil for sautéing the vegetables is acceptable.

* This soup is so very flexible. There are many ways you can change this soup to make it fit your preferences. The whole feel and taste can be transformed by just a few additions. A well drained can of Ro-Tel tomatoes with chiles adds a lovely spicy and almost Latin flavor. I've added cooked, cubed potato to make it a "man pleasing" and hearty soup. Add in some sliced andouille sausage or ham to take it to another level. So many possibilities!

* I like to use a fairly dark beer in this soup. We like the beer flavor to be rather obvious. I suggest using a beer you enjoy drinking. Light beer works well too, if you want just an essence of beer. Also, this soup stands well on it's own without the beer, if you're feeding children or you just don't like the flavor of beer.

* The traditional garnish for this soup is popcorn! Kids (even the grown up ones) love it! I usually like to serve it with a side of buttered pumpernickel bread. Also, it's a great soup to pair with a grilled ham sandwich on dark rye bread to make a complete meal.
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