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Monday, January 4, 2010

Beer Cheese Soup with Red Peppers & Bacon

For a week or two before Christmas, our weather in Arizona was quite chilly....well for the desert that is.  When it's chilly, I constantly crave comfort foods.  More importantly, I constantly crave soups and mac & cheese :)  Since I made mac & cheese a few weeks ago, I figured it was time for another soup.  Actually, now that I think about it, the only real difference between this soup and my mac & cheese are the noodles and the beer!  I WIN!

This is a recipe I came up with on my own (YAY!).  I have made beer cheese soup before in many different forms, using many different recipes, so I thought this time, I would create my own.  I am actually very pleased with this recipe.  What I found difficult about creating my own recipe is one thing and one thing only:  I have to measure everything.... no more a little of this and a dash of that :)  Then again, if that is my only complaint, I am doing great!!

So without further ado... I give you:

Beer Cheese Soup with Red Pepper and Bacon

1/2 lbs Bacon, diced
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
1 sweet red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls butter (I use unsalted)
2 Tbls flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup beer (light beer/pale ale)
3 dashes Tabasco
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1tsp dry mustard
2-3 cups shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese (medium, sharp, or extra sharp will work), depending on how cheesy you want it to be

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon until brown and crisp.  Drain on paper towel.  Measure out 2 Tbls bacon grease discard all the rest.

In the same pot, over medium low heat, add bacon grease and onion.  Cook onion for 5-6 minutes.  Add the red pepper and cook another 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.  Add butter and flour and stir.  Let cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in heavy cream, milk, and beer.  Add Tabasco, Worcestershire, and mustard.  As soon as the soup starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and add cheeses, a little at a time, until completely melted.  (Do not let the soup boil once the cheese is added.  Keep it at a low simmer.  Boiling with the cheese can lead to grainy soup)  Add bacon.  Let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Enjoy!

If you really didn't want to use beer, say you were cooking for kids and didn't want to add the alcohol to the soup, you can substitute chicken broth for it.  Also, I used Bud Light just because that's what we have in the house, but I would recommend a pale ale if you really want that true beer cheese taste (you can really use any light beer or pale ale you like).  I made this soup thinking that it would feed Chris and I one meal plus some leftovers, but I was wrong.  We both had two bowls each and that was it.  That actually worked well for us since we aren't the greatest on eating leftovers (plus we still have 5 pieces of lasagna left to eat!!!), but if you are feeding more then 2, I would suggest doubling the recipe.


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