Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cheddar Beer Soup

• 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
• 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
• 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/4 stick (1/8 cup) unsalted butter
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cloves garlic (or one large), grated
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
• 1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass or favorite dark beer
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• Few dashes hot sauce
• 2 t Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 cups) OR blend of favorite shredded cheeses such as cheddar, jack, and gouda
• 4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), fat rendered, bacon set aside to drain then crumble
Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander.
After rendering bacon in a 4-quart heavy saucepan or soup pot, add butter to pot to melt. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter and bacon fat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and add garlic, stirring well, cooking for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Now stir in the Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, hot sauce, Dijon, salt, and pepper. Discard bay leaf.
Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil) in small batches, waiting to add more until previously added cheese is completely melted. (Note: You can add a few slices of American cheese to help stabilize the creamy texture. It depends on how puritanical you’re feeling about your cheeses.) Serve sprinkled with bacon and croutons if desired. I like it with grilled bratwurst and Boston brown bread.

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