I am not a fan of beer. I don't like beer, or ale, or stout, or porter. In fact, anything that tastes even remotely yeast-y or hoppy, is just not for me. I do, however, like the warm ale cheese dip that has become quite popular in local pubs, and is served with warmed, freshly baked pretzels.
When I saw this recipe in the Post-Dispatch for Beer Cheese Soup (a product of executive chef John Johnson and served in the Beerhouse, one of St. Louis's River City Casino's five eateries), I was intrigued. I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it looked easy. It was! Not only that, but I really liked it. The beer flavor is strong, but not off putting, even for a confirmed beer hater like me. The Casino serves theirs with hot house-made pretzel sticks. I just grabbed for the box of frozen Super Pretzels, baked one up, and served it with the soup. It was wonderful and strongly reminiscent of what I enjoy in area pubs.
The recipe is very forgiving. I decided to make half the amount, so started off that way by melting half of the called for butter, but then lost track of what I was doing and used the full amount of carrot, onion, and celery, before halving everything else. It was still wonderful, so, when I make it again, will do the same thing.
River City Casino Beer Cheese Soup
Yield: 7 cups
8 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup diced carrot
1 tablespoon diced onion
1 tablespoon diced celery
Granulated garlic, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
White pepper, to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups 1904 Beer (I used Guinness)
3 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire
Tabasco, to taste
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
Milk, if needed, to thin
In a large, heavy pot, melt butter on medium heat until sizzling. Stir in carrot, onion and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables turn soft without turning color. As they cook, season with garlic, salt and both peppers.
Stir in flour and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes to cook off floury taste.
A quarter cup at a time at first, stir in beer, incorporating each addition before adding another. Bring mixture to a boil.
Stir in half-and-half, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Bring just to a boil but do not allow to boil. Stir in cheese, let melt. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Reheat, adding milk to thin if needed.
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