Cheddar and Ale soup to chase away the endless winter blues
Jessica Webster | AnnArbor.com
Chili, casseroles, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes are all on the menu at my house, but the star of the show has been soup.
I’ve long been obsessed with the Cheddar and Ale soup at Ann Arbor’s Grizzly Peak. It’s rich without being overwhelming; cheesy without being over-the-top, and filling enough to be a meal by itself.
A few years ago I found a blog post with a recipe for “The-Closest-that-I've-Ever-Gotten-to-Grizzly-Peak's-Cheddar & Ale Soup,” and I’ve been tinkering with it ever since. I ended up with a soup that celebrates cheese and beer but also has a little bit of carrot and celery in it to make you feel like you’re eating something that’s good for you.
The great news is that this is incredibly simple to make. There are no difficult techniques to master. The hardest aspect to making this soup is dicing the carrots and grating the cheese. Well that, and having to restrain yourself when the urge to repeatedly taste the soup while it’s cooking takes over.
This soup makes a perfect lunch with a bit of crusty baguette or a soft pretzel. I’ve served it for dinner with a robust salad. It’s also pretty great with some steamed broccoli stirred in.
One important note about cheese: the more flavorful the cheese, the more flavorful the soup. I usually splurge on a good two- or three-year sharp white cheddar.
Favorite Cheddar and Ale Soup
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 12-ounce bottles ale (I used Old Speckled Hen)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 16-20 ounces aged white cheddar
- 2-3 shakes of your favorite hot sauce - I used Cholula
- 2-3 shakes Worcestershire
- chopped scallion tops for garnish
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly until they have softened. Keep a careful eye on the pot to avoid letting the garlic and onion brown.
Turn the heat down to low and sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour onto the vegetables, stir together and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes over low heat.
Next add vegetable or chicken stock, ale and mustard. Turn the heat up and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the stock simmers, grate the cheddar cheese on a box grater and set aside.
After the broth is done simmering, stir in 1 cup of heavy cream. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir it as it melts. Season with a few shakes of Worcestershire and hot sauce. Add more salt and pepper after tasting if necessary.
At this point, you can purée the soup using an immersion blender, or purée it in batches in a food processor or blender. I like the little bites of carrots and onions in the soup, so I elected not to.
Garnish the soup with chopped scallion tops and serve with some crusty bread or soft pretzels.