VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet and ecological issues.
Cheddar/Stilton Beer Soup might be vegetarian, but it is not, of course, vegan, and it is not, of course, low-calorie.
Use good-tasting beer.1 Unlike other beer-in-food-recipes, with this, the beer's flavor will be evident. Likewise, please use good cheese; it's the soup's primary ingredient.2 I've adapted the recipe from The Kitchn website. It should make enough soup to serve five or six.
And, it all starts with a roux.
- 4 TBSP olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 6 ounces lager beer
- 4 ounces room temperature cream cheese
- 3 cups (12 ounces) freshly-grated aged artisinal cheddar
- 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce 3
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp fresh sage
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp white pepper
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly popped popcorn
- 1) In a large pot, sautée the onions, carrots, and celery over medium to medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- 2) Make a roux. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until thick and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. The roux prevents the cheese from separating, getting stringy. And it adds depth of flavor.
- 3) Whisk in the vegetable stock and nutmeg and bring to a gentle boil. Toss in bay leaves. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes.
- 4) Remove bay leaves! Blend soup with immersion blender.
- 5) Return to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Add a few ounces of beer, a few small chunks of cream cheese, and a handful each of blue cheese and cheddar. Whisk constantly and repeat until the cream cheese is smooth, and the cheddar and Stilton are melted. Make sure the mixture never comes to a boil; boiling will cause the cheese to separate.
- 6) Stir in the milk, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and bring back to a gentle simmer. Season with pepper to taste. Only add salt if needed. If too thick, add more milk and/or stock and/or beer as needed.
- 7) Garnish with popcorn, dash of smoked paprika, and a few shreds of sage.
- For a smoother consistency, follow steps 1 through 4, but then strain out the vegetables and bay leaves, return to the pot and continue with step 5.
- To make the soup in advance, follow steps 1 though 4, cooking the vegetables, making the roux, and simmering the stock. Do NOT add cheese. Refrigerate. When ready to finish, bring to a simmer, and then add the cheese and follow the remaining steps.
- 1 For the lager, choose a flavorful Dortmunder-style like Great Lakes Brewing Dortmunder Gold or an amber lager such as Yuengling, or, more flavorfully, Anchor Steam. Avoid anything overtly hoppy or overly bitter. When cooked, hops can become unpleasantly astringent.
- 2 For the cheeses, go artisinal. For cheddar, try an aged Cheddar from Grafton, in Vermont, for example. Or classic, from Keen's, in the UK. For Stilton, Stilton, of course. Or a good American blue, such as classic Maytag Blue.
- 3 Worcestershire sauce, although fermented from barley malt, also contains anchovies. There are non-fish, vegan versions. Or make your own.
- Do NOT boil the soup. Boiling will cause the cheese to separate.
- The soup is best served immediately. If any is left over, refrigerate and use the following day, re-heated, as a dip.
- More soup photos: here.
- The cooking process will NOT remove all of the beer's alcohol from the soup. Of course, not very much beer is called for, and the soup is split six ways.
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