Get the recipe here.
Several years ago, my wife and I went out to dinner. I do not remember where we were, but my wife ordered a cup of their beer cheese soup. She was less than impressed, and in the course of the conversation that followed I mentioned that I could probably make a better one.
I should probably watch what I say, as I’ve spent the intervening three or four years dodging my wife’s requests for a pot of beer cheese soup. At some point along the line I wrote down some ideas, but nothing really ever came of it. Adding insult to injury, I actually enjoy a good beer cheese soup and every time we saw one while out eating I would get comment about the soup I had yet to create.
Finally, I broke down. I decided to give it a shot. I think I pretty much nailed it on the first go around. The wife was happy, I was happy – though the boys were decidedly uninterested. I think they will come around though, given some time for their tastebuds to adjust.
Aside from a few slight adjustments to beer quantity (we wanted a more beer forward soup) and the addition of worcestershire sauce (I forgot it entirely in my first batch), this soup is entirely as I made it the first time.
Notes and Thoughts:
We wanted a soup that was beer and cheese forward, but also thick and hearty. By using a roux that gets added a bit at at time, it is possible to tailor the soup to your preference. Using bacon fat to cook the vegetables adds flavor and depth to the finished product. The shredded carrots add a sweetness that balances the beer nicely. The leeks work perfectly in this soup.
We went with easy to find and consistent cheeses. You could try something else, but for us, this combination worked out perfectly. I would be tempted to substitute a gruyere for the gouda, but that might be a bit down the line.
I highly recommend using a good prepared mustard vs. using dry mustard. We are partial to a brand out of Asheville called Lusty Monk (specifically their Burn in Hell Chipotle mustard) but any good mustard will do.
Check your butcher section at your grocery store for some good bacon. Our local superstore usually has thick cut bacon by the pound. You could certainly go for a nice artisanal bacon, but it’s certainly not necessary.
For the beer we went with Sierra Nevada Porter. Sierra Nevada is distributed pretty much all over the United States, and their Porter is usually pretty easy to get ahold of. Besides which, it happens to be a damned fine example of the style and finishing off the six pack is an enjoyable experience in itself.
The worcestershire sauce is a great addition to this soup. I forgot to add it, and while the soup was excellent I think the worcestershire sauce would make a big difference. So do not be like me, add the L&P.
We served this with a loaf of our Herbed Rustic Loaf and a glass of a nice red blend. Had we been thinking, we would have tried it alongside the Sierra Nevada Porter that we used in the dish, but we did not think of that until well after dinner. I highly recommend the crusty herbed bread mentioned above. The herbs and salt paired fantastically with the soup. If you could find a bread bowl to use for this recipe, I would recommend using that paired with the Herbed Loaf recipe. It would make the soup a fantastic meal.