Let's fast-forward to a more recent meal. I've been making more soups than usual lately, mostly because they're a little less expensive to pull together. Given my love of cheese, it is probably no surprise that this cheddar ale soup was irresistible to me.
We had leftover cipollini onions -- not vidalia for a change -- and they are the worst onions I've ever dealt with. Not only did I cry more cutting up these onions than any other onion I've ever encountered, but their smell clings to the kitchen for hours, and even a day, later. Ouch! My husband had to chop the onions for the soup, because I just couldn't stop crying.
The soup was fine -- it was tasty but not mild-blowing. I added basil and chile powder to give the soup more oomph, as it is rich but kind of bland otherwise. I actually liked it more re-heated, but bear in mind that if you re-heat the lazy way (in the microwave) it will separate into gloppy parts and thin parts. Still tasty, but a strange texture. Still, if you like cheese a lot, you might as well give this a try!
Cheddar Ale Soup
barely adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided into 1/3 and 1/6
1 cup pale ale
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk (I used skim)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon mild new mexican chile powder
Combine bacon fat and butter over medium heat and melt. Mix in veggies, cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes or so. The vegetables should be softened. Toss in the garlic and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds to one minute. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour over the veggies and cook, stirring pretty much constantly. Then add beer and cook for 2-3 minutes until it resembles a paste. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, milk, and chicken broth. Stir until smooth. Increase heat and let soup simmer at medium-high. Once the soup begins to simmer, reduce heat to medium-lower and allow to simmer for 10-12 minutes. At medium-low heat, add the cheese a little at a time, sprinkling the rest of the flour in at this stage to finish thickening. Don't let the soup boil. Add in the basil and New Mexican chile powder at the very end, and enjoy! This gives you about 8 servings of roughly 1 cup each, with each cup being about 400 calories.