Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pin-It Tuesday: Beer Cheese Soup

Being a born and raised Wisconsin girl, I love my cheese and I love my beer and I love having the two together. My cousin introduced me to beer dip that I love to make for parties and serve with pretzels. And then I made this Guinness beer cheese dip for a recent party and it was a favorite by everyone.

But when the weather turns colder, I don't want a chilled dip, I want my cheese warm and with beer in a soup version. :) I have tried to make it before but it wasn't even blog-worthy the last time. It just tasted bland and needed something but I wasn't sure what.

It seems I'm not the only one that loves this trend as I have found beer cheese soup all over lately.

This past summer, my friend Tiffany and I took advantage of  the TGI-Friday's field seating during a Brewers game at Miller Park and ordered some pretzel sticks with beer cheese dip. Not only was the view amazing, but the pretzel sticks and beer cheese were heavenly! The dip reminded me of a soup and I would have licked that bowl clean.

Matt and I went to Friday's at Miller Park this past weekend and I told him we had to get the beer cheese dip. He too agreed it was fabulous and it was even better than I remembered. DO NOT calculate the calories though - its that good you just don't want to know!

My next encounter with Beer Cheese soup was at Bernie's Tap Room for the Milwaukee Brewing Company Beer Dinner. Chef Brooke (whom I hope to pick her brain soon for my blog!!) showcased her mad kitchen skills and wowed us all with a fabulous 5-course dinner that included beer cheese soup garnished with popcorn and a pretzel roll on the side. Read my review here

I then stopped by RiverMill Foods last month to have a great conversation with Laurie and grabbed a salad and beer cheese soup. It was so thick and creamy and the beer didn't overpower the cheese. I will have to find out what type of beer she used :)

Soup & Salad combo at RiverMill Foods
So after all these tastings, I decided it was my turn to jump back in and try my hand at it. I had pinned a recipe to my Pinterest Soups On board months ago and decided it was time to have at it.

Click here for the original recipe

I had almost all of the ingredients in the house already, just missing good Wisconsin cheese. I decided on Shullsburg Medium Cheddar and a small amount of Shullsburg Cheese & Bacon cheese. (I didn't tell Matt I used the bacon cheese and he despises the meat candy and I'm wondering if he will notice when he has some.)

Sweating the onions made the house smell heavenly and then it was time to add the beer. Yes I know I'm a traitor and used a Minnesota beer (Kayak Kolsch), BUT it's a micro brewery and all I had in the house that wasn't too heavy to overpower any other flavors in the soup. (Please don't exonerate me!)

Making the house smell heavenly!
I have never blended hot ingredients before and have heard horror stories about it exploding in the blender and all over the kitchen and the cook, so I was extremely cautious, went slow and never completely sealed the blender. It went rather smoothly overall with minimal mess in the kitchen (no more than average for me!)

Omit the PB in the background - Dad made a sandwich while I was cooking :)
Added a bit at a time so as to not explode all over the kitchen
Then it all goes back in the pot and I added a few spices before the cheese (paprika, chili powder, garlic powder).

The I added the cheesy, gooey yum part. I added the amount suggested and let it all melt. Unfortunately I felt it tasted like flour and beer and no cheese was coming through to my buds.

So I brought out the grater and added a bit more of both cheeses (1/2 - 3/4 cup more maybe?). Except for the fact that the additional cheese never melted completely (any ideas why cook friends?), it really added dimension and massive flavor to the soup.

See the unmelted cheese? It was almost boiling and wouldn't melt - any thoughts?
I wasn't a fan of the unmelted cheese texture in the soup but the flavor was great. Just enough beer and cheese and the bacon cheese added a hint of smokiness to the flavor, but I wouldn't say it tasted like bacon. I used some whole wheat rolls to dip in the soup (yup - Wisconsinites love their carbs too!) 

I'll try this recipe again and hopefully have all the cheese melt this time and probably use a bit heavier Wisconsin beer.

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