Most of you may know by now that I am originally a Wisconsinite who is currently residing in Iowa. That’s right, I am a cheese head, through and through. Honestly, I don’t really care about football too much (don’t hate me), so I am not talking about being a Packers’ fan kind of cheese head.
I am talking about rich, salty, creamy, dreamy cheese! I love cheese. Cheddar is like gold to us Wisconsinites. Growing up, I rarely found a refrigerator that did not contain cheese of some kind. It’s almost against the law to not have a cheese-stocked fridge.
Another staple in most households in Wisconsin is a nice cold beer.
Combine the two staples and you’ve got yourself one of the most delicious Wisconsin treats of all times.
Although I did not move too far away from Wisconsin, I have rarely found beer cheese soup on menus here. When I first told Paul about beer cheese soup he thought it sounded “ like someone spilled beer in his soup”.
Maybe that’s how beer cheese soup came to be. It is a huge possibility.
The idea of mixing beer and cheese together to create a soup may seem whacky to you, but you have to trust me on this one. We ‘Sconnies know our cheeses and our beer.
Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup is rich and creamy, perfectly cheesy followed by a back note of a good malty beer, and rounded out by the sweetness of the carrots and the saltiness of the bacon.
Okay, maybe this soup is not the most figure-friendly soup out there, but it is worth every calorie. Plus, it is not intended to be eaten as a meal. It makes the perfect appetizer soup or side soup. A small cup is the perfect amount.
I have eaten my fair share of beer cheese soups in my days and some are better than others. Some soups are made with a lighter beer and the cheese drowns out the flavor of the beer. This is why I used a dark lager beer. It is the perfect balance of cheese and beer in a spoonful.
Did I mention that bacon makes everything better? So don’t skip it! It adds a smoky and salty crunch that screams, “perfect”. But if you are wanting to keep this soup vegetarian you can sub in crackers or popcorn for the bacon. They are both delicious options. But seriously, bacon is better.
One more request for you when you make this soup. Please, please do not buy pre-shredded cheddar cheese. It may be okay for most recipes, but the anti-caking agent that they add to pre- shredded cheese will prevent the cheese from melting as smoothly. Besides, fresher is always better! So, get grating! It is well worth your effort. It will even help you burn off some calories to allow for soup eating.
Also, buy a good Wisconsin cheese, if you can. It is THE best! Maybe I am a little biased; any good quality sharp cheddar will do.
Okay, now it’s time to get into your kitchen and start cooking! Go! Now! In just 45 minutes you can enjoy one of Wisconsin’s most beloved dishes.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 to 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 organic carrot (unpeeled, if organic), washed and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) dark lager beer or a Irish red beer
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch whisked with ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese (preferably Wisconsin cheese), freshly grated
- 3 green onions, chopped, green part only, for topping (optional).
- Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat in a medium-sized stew pot or Dutch oven. Add the chopped bacon and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until rendered and crispy. Using a slotted spoon remove the bacon and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Spoon out some of the bacon grease, if needed, leaving in about 2 tablespoons to cook the veggies. Add the onion and salt, saute´ for 3 minutes, or until softened. Add in carrots and saute´ for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and saute´ for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Add the 4 cups chicken stock and bottle of beer. Turn the heat up to high and pop the lid on. Bring to a boil, remove the lid and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the carrots are very tender and the alcohol from the beer has cooked off.
- Add to the soup the whisked mixture of the arrowroot powder or cornstarch and chicken stock. Add in the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, pepper, and sea salt. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes, or until thickened.
- Stir in the cheddar cheese and allow to melt.
- Using an immersion blender puree´ the soup until smooth. Alternately you can ladle the soup into a blender. Just make sure to ladle half of the soup at a time to prevent it from creating a suction.
- Return the soup to the stew pot and keep it warm on low heat. Ladle the soup into small bowls to serve as an appetizer or side dish. Garnish with the bacon pieces and sliced green onion.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to one week. The soup is best reheated on the stove rather than in the microwave.