Best-Ever Beer Cheese Soup
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
- 1 to 1 1/2 large carrots, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup small-diced piquillo peppers, or 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken stock, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
- One 12-ounce bottle beer, preferably a mild-flavored blond or pale ale
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 12 ounces aged yellow cheddar (aged at least 2 years), grated
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Dash hot sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Mustard oil or extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
- Fresh goat cheese, for garnish
- Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until well incorporated, about 5 minutes more.
Add the chicken stock, beer and half-and-half and cook, whisking often, at a very slow simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
Add the cheddar to the soup by the handful, whisking each batch until smooth. Add the Worcestershire, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, the nutmeg, mustard and lemon juice, and stir to combine.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender (holding a thick towel over the lid to prevent overflow) until very smooth.
Just before serving, reheat the soup until steaming and taste for seasoning, adding salt as necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a swirl of mustard oil, a dollop of goat cheese and a sprinkle of thyme.
Blending Hot Liquids: When blending hot liquids, remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid; that prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times, then process on high speed until smooth.
Adapted from "The New Midwestern Table" by Amy Thielen (c) Clarkson Potter, 2013. Provided courtesy of Amy Thielen. All rights reserved.