Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and onions, and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the saucepan to toast the flour, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the stock, and then the milk and beer. Stir in the potatoes and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to low heat. Add 1 cup of the Cheddar, a handful at a time, stirring until melted and smooth after each addition. Add additional chicken stock if necessary to adjust the consistency. Sprinkle with hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Divide the soup among bowls and top with the remaining Cheddar, sour cream, bacon and chives. Serve with Gina's Spinach Salad with Spiced Pecans.
Gina's Spinach Salad
For the pecans: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in all the spices and the pecans. Stir and toast the pecans for about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a plate to cool.
For the salad: Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and shallots in a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil in a continuous stream, whisking to emulsify. Season with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.
Add the spinach to a large serving bowl. Toss the greens with the prepared dressing, the bacon, blue cheese, cherry tomatoes and spiced pecans.
Recipe courtesy of the Neelys