Have I ever mentioned that I absolutely love beer? I’m not talking about Bud Light, Coors or the most-revolting Miller High Life. I’m talking about amber lagers, hoppy pale ales and creamy, mocha-flavored stouts. Last weekend in St. Augustine, we went to a microbrewery for dinner and found some pretty delicious beers. I love microbrewery menus. Yes, you can read all about the beer-making process, but you also get to see how that beer makes it into the food. Beer mustard, beer battered everything and on this particular menu, Cheese & Ale Soup.
Although tempted, I would have been crazy to order the soup. We were sitting out on the balcony and it was 85 very humid degrees. I would have melted. In the words of the Soup Nazi – No soup for me! But it sounded so good, I decided to make my own version, using potatoes as the basis.
I started with your basic soup starters – sauteed onions and garlic. Added a few diced potatoes, some stock and summer ale. After some time simmering and a quick run-in with the immersion blender, I stirred in the cheese and secret ingredients. Served with crumbled pretzels and more cheese, I finished up my beer soup. Beer, cheese, potatoes and pretzels. You really can’t go wrong there – the soup was great. So great and so easy, I can’t wait to make it again.
Poatato, Cheese & Ale Soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large Idaho potato, diced (I leave the skin on…fiber!)
1 cup chicken stock
1 12. oz Ale-style beer (I used Sam Adams Summer Ale)
3/4 cup shredded jack and cheddar cheese, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
a big handful of pretzels (for garnish)
Set a large pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil once it’s hot. Saute the onions for 5 – 7 minutes, or until soft, then add the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes.
Add the potatoes and brown them a bit. If they start sticking, add the stock and beer and reduce the heat to medium. Let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are tender.
Use an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor to puree the soup until smooth. Return to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Stir in the cheese, salt, paprika and vinegar until well-combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with crushed pretzels and more cheese.
Makes 2 entree-sized servings or 4 appetizer-sized servings.