Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hoppy Halloween Beer Cheese Soup

Okay I've been slacking lately. I'm a little behind on this blogging business. I've been creating lots of new recipes, but that takes less time than sitting down and actually typing them up. Also I've gotten pretty good at cooking with my babies in the kitchen. Blogging with the munchkins, not so much. It's almost exclusively a nap time activity.

This last week has been crazy and not so much in the good way. Katie got to make a surprise visit to urgent care after being pushed off her brother's bunk bed. I went with her to ensure I wasn't having a panic attack. PRAISE GOD she is okay! The threat of a concussion is so scary for little ones.

The only good part of that entire day was conversing with the doctor. You know how it is. Little people do crazy things. Talking to someone about such events who, a) don't have kids, or b) it's been a while for them, can be funny. I refuse to believe in the other mythological option, c) their children are absolute angels and never do anything wrong. Okay back on topic. The doctor was incredible. She also fell into the b category I think. At the beginning of the visit she asked me, "How did she get up on the bunk bed?" I took a moment to see if she was serious. She was. I replied quite eloquently, "Umm...she climbed up." Ha ha ha. Katie is almost two and a half. She's had that bunk bed mastered for a while now. The doctor then muttered something about how I should child proof the bunk bed and I giggled a little to myself.

About ten minutes into the appointment Katie climbed up onto the examination table, looked at me, and yelled, "JUMP KATIE!" I caught her and quickly told her how unsafe that was. I then turned and looked at the doctor who was laughing. I think she, at that point, had a better understanding of what I deal with on a daily basis. The doctor then said to Katie, "I think this might be the first of many visits like this to come." You are telling me!

So all this back story to tell you I've been a little off my game lately. Now you know. But...beer cheese soup is a good solution to all this don't you think? I don't know about you all, but in my world there are few things more decadent tasting than beer and cheese in soup form.

I swear I put my mood into my food too. Normally I like yummy chocolate stouts and porters when I have the occasional beer. I actually love to cook with beer more than I like drinking it. It's not that I don't enjoy beer. I just rarely can finish an entire beer. I love the heavy stuff, but it's just that. It's heavy. Call me lame. I'll take it. It's who I am and I'm okay with that. I almost always steer clear of IPAs however. I can't handle the bitter hoppiness of them. My sister-in-law Jessica claims that IPAs force you to use the taste buds that would never otherwise get use. This week was rough though so I wanted something with a bite to it.

I also love the black label, extra sharp, Tillamook cheddar. At first I thought I was going out of my mind with and Ipa and an extra sharp cheddar, but it worked out really well. You might already be able to tell that this soup isn't terribly good for you. Ignore that. It's delicious.

My garden is finally coming to it's last hurrah and I am now swimming in leeks. If you haven't ever used leeks before you are truly missing out. They have a very mild onion flavor, but what I love most is that they almost have a buttery flavor to them when cooked. You could omit them, but I think they help to balance out all the harsh flavors of the other ingredients.

Okay so starting with making the delicious roux. Roux is just a fancy word for melted butter and flour mixed together as a soup or gravy base. It helps thicken things. With this recipe I thicken twice. I think that makes it easier to adjust the consistency of your soup.

First lets melt that butter and throw all our chopped veggies in. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes. You want to make sure the leeks turn nice and bright green!

Now it's time to add your flour, salt ,and pepper. Mix it well and let it cook for about three minutes. Continue to stir the mixture. Now you are ready for your beer and chicken stock. For all you vegetarians out there, you could easily do vegetable stock instead. For the beer, I used Pyramid Thunderhead IPA. It's IBU is pretty low for and IPA. I think it's only in the fifties. I recommend you stay with something around this range. Any higher and the beer is going to drown out all that delicious cheese flavor. Also make sure you add all that liquid slowly, giving it time to thicken as you go.
This is now your opportunity to thicken the soup more. Measure out your half and half and then whisk in flour. I did 1/4 cup of flour. If you like your soup thicker do more, thinner do less. Easy peasy! Make sure you get all those pesky flour lumps out, then add the mixture to the soup slowly and stir constantly. Now add all that yummy cheese and you are done! MMMMMmmmmmm.

Hoppy Halloween Beer Cheese Soup
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 leeks chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour plus more to thicken with cream
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 c. chicken stock
  • 12 oz. bottle IPA
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 6 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded
    1. Melt butter over medium heat
    2. Chop all veggies and cook them in butter for about 5 minutes. You want to be sure the onions soften  and the leeks are bright green
    3. Add 1/4 cup of flour, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Cook for about 3 minutes stirring constantly to ensure the roux doesn't burn.
    4. Slowly add chicken stock and beer.
    5. Increase heat to medium-high allowing soup to come to rolling boil and thicken slightly. Let cook this way for about 10 minutes.
    6. Mix together half and half and more flour. I used 1/4 cup more of flour. Whisk together thoroughly. 
    7. Reduce heat again to medium and add the milk, flour mixture.
    8. Now add cheese and allow to melt. Mix well and serve.
    9. Reduce heat