Sunday, December 1, 2013

Guinness & Cheddar Soup

Awwwwww yeah.  Beer Cheese soup season!  Sure it's got some calories to it, but when your diet consists of eating whatever you want as long as you make it, then meals like this are welcome.  It's holiday season, don't fight it.  Or, do those little things Woman's magazine encourages like always take the stairs, park far away at the shopping mall, don't eat half a rack of Christmas cookies in one sitting.  Speaking of which, I need to find some cookie recipes. 

This recipe is a slight variation on the Cheddar Ale Soup, with a touch less cheese and of course the addition of the lovely black stuff.  Even if you don't like Guinness (God help you) the flavors reached in this soup are so very tasty.  As I always preach, quality ingredients are key to good flavor.  Get a good brick of sharp cheddar and shred it yourself, don't just reach for that bag of pre-shredded crap from Kraft.

Next to quality ingredients, having the right tools helps tremendously.  If you don't have a stick blender, there's still time to let Santa know.  Blending soups right in the pot is so much better than trying not to make a mess pouring hot liquid into a blender. 

Guinness & Cheddar Soup
4 servings

2 TB unsalted butter
2 medium carrot, diced
2 celery, diced
1 large or 2 small onion, diced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
4 TB AP flour
18 oz Guinness (or similar stout)
2 C low-sodium chicken stock
1.5 C milk (I used 2%)
1.5 ts Worcestershire sauce
1 ts mustard powder
8 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 ts cayenne pepper, optional
splash Guinness

In a medium pot, combine the chicken stock, milk, Worcestershire, and mustard powder.  Stir and keep warm over low heat. 

In a large cast-iron dutch oven or large pot, melt the butter and then add the EVOO over medium-high heat.  Once nice and hot add in the carrot, celery, and onion.  Season with a pinch of S&P.  Cook, stirring here and there, until softened and just starting to color, 6 minutes or so.  Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, thirty seconds.  Sprinkle the flour over the veg and stir often for 3 minutes.  Introduce a third of the Guinness, stir well to deglaze the pan and get then whisk to get the roux started.  Add the rest of the beer slowly while whisking to smooth out the mixture.  Once your beer-flour-veg combo is combined well, add in the warm stock and milk.  Stir and bring just to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low, simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened slightly. 

Blend with a stick blender or in a blender until all veg has been liquified.  Taste and add more S&P if needed. 

Return back to the cooking vessel and over very low heat, add in the cheese a couple handfuls at a time, stirring and melting each addition. 

Ladle into soup crocks or bowls.  If desired sprinkle with a bit of cayenne pepper.  Top with the last little bit of Guinness in your can or bottle, a 'foam' if you will.  Sure the term is popular, but this is not some trick of molecular gastronomy.  It's beer.  Serve with some crusty bread and a pint.  Slainte. 

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