Thursday, January 14, 2016

#VeggieDag Thursday: Beer & Cheese Soup.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag Thursday is an occasional Thursday post
on an animal-free diet and ecological issues.
Beer is brilliant in the kitchen —far more versatile than wine. You can use it for marinating, baking, long, slow casseroles —and quick stir-fries; sauces and soups; breads and batters; crisp fritters and melting moments; to add tartness to a salad dressing, spice to a curry, and pungency to a pickle. It glazes, caramelizes, tenderizes, lifts, enriches. It can flavour — or accompany — fish, game, meat, mollusks, poultry, vegetables, fruit, cheese, chocolate, cakes, puddings, and pies. Keep your mind open, a bottle opener to hand, and be creative.
—Susan Nowak, The Beer Cook Book

Cheddar/Stilton Beer Soup might be vegetarian, but it is not, of course, vegan, and it is not, of course, low-calorie. But, oh, so tasty.

Use a 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

And, it all starts with a roux.


  • 1 + 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (or butter)
  • 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 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

Lager Beer (for Beer-Cheese Soup)


  • 1) In a large pan, sautée the onions, carrots, and celery with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium to medium-low heat until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • 2) In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, make a roux. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter over medium heat. Slowly add 3 tablespoons flour. Stir or whisk the flour constantly for about 5-7 minutes, lightly-toasting it. The roux adds depth of flavor and prevents the cheese from separating (or becoming stringy) once added.
  • 3) In the soup pot, whisk the vegetable stock into the roux. Add the sautéed vegetables and bay leaves, mix in the nutmeg, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 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 and whisk. Add a small chunk of cream cheese and whisk. Add a handful of the blue cheese and cheddar, and whisk. Repeat, whisking constantly, until the cheeses have melted. Don't boil!
  • 6) Stir in the milk, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, and gently simmer. Season with pepper to taste. (Only add salt if needed.) If the soup is too thick, add more milk and/or stock and/or beer as needed.
  • 7) Serve immediately. Ladle into bowls. Garnish each with a few popped kernels of popcorn, a dash of smoked paprika, and a few shreds of sage.

Beer-Cheese Soup (02)


  • Following the recipe should yield enough soup to serve five or six.
  • 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.
  • 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 (even though, as this is beer-cheese soiup, why?).
  • To make the soup in advance, follow steps 1 though 4, cooking the vegetables, making the roux, and simmering the stock and blending. 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.
  • 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.
  • Althought Susan Nowak's cookbook, The Beer Cook does indeed contain several recipes for beer-soup, the recipe above is NOT hers. But her quote on the use of beer as an ingredient is brilliant. And I have cooked from her cookbook. One such occasion: here.
  • I've adapted the above recipe from The Kitchn website.

  • Why the name VeggieDag Thursday? Here.
  • Read all the posts: here. Follow on Twitter with hashtag: #VeggieDag.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs, writers, and home-cooks welcomed! Contact me here.

  • For more from YFGF:

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