Cheddar & Ale Soup

Picture of soup

Katie Parker and Stevie Rushing, two regular class guests and members of the Georgia Air National guard, recently joined me for my Facebook Live show on Veteran’s Day and shared with me their favorite Cheddar and Ale soup. While cooking, they shared interesting tidbits like the fact that they have convection ovens aboard the giant C130 planes. Check out the replay of the show to find out what they like to prepare for their crewmembers in those convection ovens!

Their recipe originally came from Cabot Cheese but, as is often the case, I found inspiration and made a few tweaks and changes to create recipe below:

Cheddar and Ale Soup

Perfect for a chilly Autumn’s night or winter day!

Yield: 4 servings

4 slices bacon

1 red bell pepper (or ½ cup ¼-inch diced roasted red pepper from a jar)

1/2 medium yellow onion, ¼” dice

½ carrot, ¼” dice

1 stalk celery, ¼” dice

1 small bay leaf

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard

6 tablespoons flour, divided use

1 12-oz. golden ale

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups milk

1 lb. Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (about 4 cups)

4 green onions, finely chopped

Preheat broiler.  Cut bacon cross-wise into 1/4” wide pieces.  Place bacon in a 4-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until the fat is rendered out and bacon is crispy.    

While bacon is cooking, core the red bell pepper and cut into panels and place skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place pepper under the broiler for about 4-5 minute, or until charred.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.  When pepper has cooled, remove the charred skin and dice into ¼-inch dice.  Set aside until soup is finished.

When bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.  Reserve cooked bacon until soup is finished.  To the bacon grease in the pan, add the yellow onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, salt, pepper and dry mustard.  Cook until vegetables are softened but not browned.  Add 3 tablespoons of the flour to the pan and cook for about a minute to get rid of the raw starchy taste.  Flour should absorb the excess bacon grease and moisture and have the appearance of wet sand.  If the flour still looks a bit dry, add just enough butter or oil to the pan to moisten the flour.  After cooking for about a minute, add the ale and whisk vigorously to deglaze the pan and prevent lumps.  Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and then chicken broth and milk.   Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid has thickened.  While soup is simmering and thickening, toss the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour with the shredded cheese to mix well and coat the shreds with flour.  Add the cheese and flour mixture to the soup a handful at a time and whisk while it melts.

Once cheese has melted, stir in the bacon, reserved roasted red peppers and chopped green onions.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or a few drops of hot sauce to brighten the flavor to taste.

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