A base of crispy bacon, sharp cheese and lager beer provides a lighter yet satisfying and delicious Beer and Cheddar Soup.
The combination of cheese and beer in a soup format accommodates a great deal of variety depending on the constituents chosen to represent each element. Darker beers like stouts and porters work well blended with beef broth and heavier, smoked cheeses. For a lighter take on the same, use a golden lager and chicken stock to showcase the sharp tangy nature of that most popular of cheeses, cheddar.
This particular recipe is adapted from Jonathan Erdeljac of Jonathan’s Oak Cliff in Dallas. It works best with a lager or pilsner style of beer, certainly nothing darker or heavier than a märzen/Oktoberfest. This allows the bright, sweet notes of the beer to marry with the distinct sharpness of the cheddar instead of burying the cheese under roasty malt flavors.
Also different with this version is the inclusion of some solids, namely chopped onion, celery and jalapeño. This provides more body and substance to the creamy, cheesy soup for more of a meal experience than a lighter appetizer. A small amount of diced potato, carrot or other root vegetable would work here as well.
For this recipe, stay with a sharp cheddar or similar, such as Colby or Monterey Jack. A hard or semi-hard cheese with a distinctive flavor and easy melting properties works best, or even a combination with a touch of blue cheese or mozzarella.
Garnish with chopped scallion and the remaining crispy bacon
Beer and Cheddar Soup
12 oz cheddar (sharp), grated
12-oz bottle/can of beer (lager or pilsner)
2 rashers bacon
1 yellow onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
1 c half-and-half
2 c chicken stock
¼ c flour
4 T butter
½ T thyme
1 Cook the bacon until crispy. Remove and set aside to drain (reserve the rendered fat).
2 Sauté the vegetables in the bacon fat until soft, about 10-15 min.
3 Whisk in the butter and flour to form a light roux. Gradually work in the thyme, stock and half the beer.
4 Bring to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 5 min.
5 Add the dairy, cheese and remaining beer. Stir to combine and melt until thick and creamy, about 5 min.
6 Crumble in the bacon, and season to taste.