A Great Soup For A Chilly Evening!
Beer Cheese Soup was popular in the 1980's and 1990's. Just like what happens to so many great recipes in America, low quality restaurants and get their hands on a good recipe and burn it out forever. I have seen poorly made Beer Cheese Soup served in restaurants that was separated beyond recognition. Burnt Beer Cheese Soup that has a rancid flavor also seems to find its way to a customer's table in low quality restaurants too.
Basically, quality issues are the main reason that Beer Cheese Soup declined in popularity. The health cuisine food trend also caused this fine soup to wane in popularity to a lesser extent, because those who liked Beer Cheese Soup tended to only go to restaurants to indulge.
To make a great Beer Cheese Soup, the roux has to be perfectly made or the soup will easily separate. Beer Cheese Soup cannot be overheated or the oils and fats will separate from the cheese. Once the oils separate, the milk curdles and the soup turns a rancid brown color.
Beer Cheese Soup has to be made gently over a low temperature. Beer Cheese Soup can only be kept warm for a few hours in a soup warmer, but it usually only takes a couple hours to sell 2 1/2 gallons on a good day.
Beer Cheese Soup is not simply beer and cheese that is gently cooked together like a fondue. This is a light cream soup that is flavored with beer instead of stock or broth. Just enough cheddar cheese is added to give the soup a nice flavor.
Beer cheese soup can be made with anatto oil flavored cheddar (Colby) or white English Cheddar. The orange colored anatto seasoned cheddar is what most people expect to see when they order this soup in America. I do not recommend highly processed bulk cheddar or bulk Wisconsin Cheddar. Both of those cheaper kinds of cheddar are over processed to the point of being Cheese Whiz. Highly processed Wisconsin bulk cheddar has a poor texture and flavor that tastes more like American Cheese than cheddar.
Small production artisan sharp cheddar or local farm cheddar is a superior choice for making Beer Cheese Soup and they both have an authentic English cheddar flavor. Basically the rule of thumb is, "The better the cheddar, the better the flavor!"
Beer Cheese Soup:
This recipe yields about 2 1/3 cups. (1 large portion of soup)
Step 1: Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring to create a roux. (The roux should be thick and shiny, not caky looking.)
Constantly stir the roux till it turns a light golden color and it just starts to emit a light hazelnut aroma.
Step 2: Add 1 1/2 cups of light lager beer (or pilsner) while stirring with a whisk.
Stir till the roux thickens the beer.
Step 3: Add 1 1/2 cups of milk.
Add 1/4 cup of cream.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced ham.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced green bell pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced red bell pepper.
Add 1/2 of a minced green onion.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
Stir occasionally till the soups comes to a very gentle simmer. The soup will be a very thin sauce consistency.
Step 4: Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Simmer and reduce the soup till the vegetables are cooked tender and the soup is a thin sauce consistency that can barely glaze a spoon. Be sure to stir the soup occasionally.
Step 5: Add 3/4 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese while stirring with a whisk.
Stir till the cheese blends with the soup.
Step 6: Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
Step 7: Simmer and reduce till the soup is medium thin sauce consistency that can easily coat a spoon.
*If the soup becomes too thick, add a little bit of milk. This soup should not be so thick that it resembles a nacho cheese sauce!
Step 8: Ladle the soup into a large soup bowl.
Garnish with a parsley leaf.
Deliciously rich, warm and friendly!