I will post 5 recipes per month and hopefully these posts will be enjoyable. And if not, please skip and read my fascinating thoughts about TV.
We can't stop here! This is Flavor Country.
The bread was added because I thought "oh damn I have some leftover bread, what the hell can I do with it? It is not required.
Two quick notes:
1. You don't have to use bacon.
2. This was modified from a vegetarian recipe so to return to its veggie roots, simply remove the bacon and use vegetable stock. I'm sure it'll be equally delicious but I am bacon believer. I will try to note any future recipe that can be made vegetarian.
1. Stockpot or dutch oven. (Any heavy pot that holds at least 6 quarts should do fine.)
2. Awesome cutting knife.
3. Blender (a ricer or masher if you prefer).
4. Vegetable peeler.
5. Grater (for the cheese, also because I am lazy and love my box grater).
* Chad Michael Murray is not required.
Beer Cheese Soup
I love this recipe because I got it from a Weight Watches cookbook (seriously, depending on the book, they have some awesome recipes) and because it's full of vegetables. Also I get to make it in a stockpot (what I mistakenly call a dutch oven) and if there's one thing you have to know about my cooking habits, it is this: when I get to bust out my favorite pan or my stockpot, I am a happy camper.
As this is ridiculously easy to make, I consider this my favorite winter food. Booze-y and almost good for you soup? Seriously tasty stuff.
8-10 cloves or 1 head of garlic
1 large Spanish or Vidalia onion
5-6 carrots, ends trimmed
4-5 stalks celery, ends trimmed
2 lbs potatoes (baby white or russet)
12 ounces bacon
4 cups (1 quart) low sodium chicken stock (I heavily recommend Trader Joe's)
2-3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 tablespoons Sherry
Cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon Thyme
Crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
2 bottles good beer (not dark, I prefer Yuenling)
2-3 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup 2% reduced fat milk
6-8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese
I don't expect everyone to follow this to the letter, especially since I'm sure I have a heavier hand on the spices than most. That's why I didn't specify exact amounts as those spices are my general go-to favorites and I add them until I know it's to what I like.
The Spice must flow.
Behold, mortals, it is my AWESOME CHRISTMAS GIFT, SAUCITRON 2010, FEEDER OF NOM.
I call it "Saucy" for short. Actually I don't call it anything. Except for ALEJANDRO. ALE-ALE-ALEJANDRO~
It's seriously awesome. I have been without an 8 quart stockpot for almost a year which is TOO LONG. Now I will be able to make delicious soups that I can then bring to work and thus, cheap, satisfying nourishment shall be had.
Aaaaand pasta. And homemade tomato sauces done right! Oh the possibilities. Excuse me, I'm a little starry eyed at the moment. *_*
Okay, as this is a new pot, I washed it out several times and oiled the bottom before I began frying my bacon.
Why hello there bacon. Obviously the stock is not yet coming into play. It should take just one of these boxes to make the soup. The only reason I have two out is because one of them only had about a cup left and was going to expire at the end of January. Not wasting resources = ideal!
At medium to medium heat, fry bacon in the stockpot. The bits of bacon left over are going to be incorporated into the soup. When the bacon is done, leave on a paper-lined dish. Turn off the heat and drain excess fat in the pot.
While the bacon is cooking, begin slicing your vegetables and peeling your potatoes:
Meet our base of the soup. Originally I was going to finish off some shallots but I decided to save them as I've got some chicken in the freezer and shallots are a great starter to any recipe.
The great thing about making a soup that goes into the blender? You don't have to chop things as fine. Normally I break down my onions to a mince as I am super-picky about onions. Here, I follow the Alton Brown advice: smaller pieces = quicker to cook. And it's true.
Putting my carrots and celery aside.
Heat pot on a medium heat. Pour in olive oil and add garlic, stirring with a wooden spoon 15 seconds. Once garlic is fragrant, add onions and sherry. If the bacon bits aren't coming up from the bottom of the pot, add about 1/2 cup or so of chicken stock. This will also keep the garlic from burning. Never, ever let garlic burn.
Once the onions have become translucent, begin adding spices.
Add carrots and celery and cook until they begin to soften. This should take a couple of minutes.
I totally fucked up. I mindlessly (perhaps because I was listening to The Fellowship of the Ring) began chopping up my potatoes before peeling them. Fortunately I only went through about three before I realized I messed up but as I wasn't sure what to do, I added in the unpeeled potatoes and cooked them for a couple of minutes before adding in the rest of the potatoes.
General tip: make sure to keep on mixing the veggies as they cook. You don't want anything to get stuck to the bottom of the pan and burn.
I added a dash more thyme and pepper and then proceeded to pour in the chicken stock. Once it begins to simmer, cover the pot and let cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
Look at this fucking grater.
I'm using a white cheddar cheese because I made a stop at Trader Joe's and that's what they had. It won't affect the "color" of the soup if you use white or yellow cheese as all the color in the soup actually comes from the vegetables and the spices. I do make puppy dog eyes at you and request you use extra-sharp as the sharper the cheese, the more cheesy-taste you'll get out of the soup.
Do you remember the bacon? Well, if you do, please cut this up into smaller pieces.
Well, not yet. Turn off the heat and if you are awesome, use a masher or a ricer to smash up the vegetables. If you prefer a more electronic approach, follow me to...
My blender. Let me show you it.
Now, I have learned my lesson the HARD way. Do not over-ladle your soup into the blender. Unless you are trying to feed your kitchen walls. Thereabouts in the picture is perfect. Set it to puree or liquefy and you shall be a happy camper.
As I can't return it to the pot yet, here is a portion of the soup before I've even added the cheese and other goodies.
As soon as the soup has been blended (and you have returned all the portions of the soup back into the pot, using large bowls, like the ones I used when cooking up my vegetables), return to a low heat and add the following suspects:
Here's my quick lesson on beer: the darker the beer, the heavier the taste o' beer. I have used stuff like Killian's Red before and it's okay but it obliterates any other flavors. Unless you really just want to be drinking hot beer soup, go with something lighter but not a "lite" beer. If you use Budweiser, I will silently judge you.
A few dashes of Worcestershire is totes the SECRET ingredient.
You only need a little milk, or if you want this to be a Cheese Soup, simply use 2 cups of milk instead of two bottles of beer.
Stir until fully incorporated.
Bring the soup to a simmer.
Slowly add the cheese a handful at a time, letting it fully melt before adding another handful.
At this point you should be able to turn off the heat as the soup is warm enough that the cheese will melt.
God, I am freaking STARVING. I wonder what I'll eat. OH SNAP, I made enough soup to last me the week! Mwuahahahaha.
Cool Story, Bro:
The reason I found this recipe in the first place was because I was desperate to find something that matched the taste of a beer cheese soup I used to eat at my mom's restaurant (she was a waitress) when I was a kid. Do not question why a child would be allowed to have beer cheese soup. It was awesome.
My mom has the actual recipe from the restaurant because people love her and tell her secrets but after she gave me a general idea of what the beer cheese soup contained, I decided to seek a healthier option.
I mean, at one foolish point, when I was looking for anything that worked, I tried making a beer cheese soup with canned Campbell's cheddar soup and beer. It did not come out well and OH MY GOD, the salt. So. That is my cool story and I hope you enjoyed it. Bro.
Coming up next: I have no idea! Better start opening up my cookbooks!