This is one of my favorite soups encouraged by my love of cheese. Julia Child’s famous quote was “More Butter, More Butter”. Mine would be “More Cheese, More Cheese”.
My inspiration for this soup came from a restaurant in Okemos named British Isles. Their Cheddar & Ale in a bread bowl was amazing. The restaurant didn’t survive but I made an effort to duplicate their velvety creamy cheddar soup.
What’s very fun about this recipe are the additional ingredients you can add to it or serve with it.
Serving Ideas: • Serve cooked bratwurst or polish sausage on the side • Cubed ham, such as PIT ham or Beeler’s All Natural Ham, add to finished soup. • Sprinkle the top of the soup with bacon, or for a special treat, duck bacon. • Steam some broccoli and add it to the finished soup. • Garnish with an Herbed Parmesan Cracker
Melt butter in a large soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mirepoix and the minced garlic. Sauté about 5 minutes or until vegetables turn limp. Add the flour, and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Adding The Vegetables
Slowly add chicken broth, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add potatoes and carrots. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes (do not allow to boil).
Adding The Cheese
Slowly add the cheddar cheese to the soup kettle. Continuously stir until cheese is melted. Add the ale, cream and Worchester. Simmer over low heat for about 30-45 minutes or until soup is heated through.
The Bread Bowl
Cut off the top of small rounds of bread. Hollow out inside of bread round, leaving ½ inch of bread inside the bowl. Pour soup inside the bread round and lay top on the side of the round. Place bread chunks from inside the bread bowl around the sides of the bread bowl.
This is where you can make this soup just to your liking. Certain ingredients can make the cooking process easier, some are chosen for their availability, some have a direct effect on the taste and some are chosen for their healthier attributes.
Chicken Stock: There’s a wide array of options for Chicken Stock. In this recipe, and all my recipes, I like to use a chicken base. Chicken base tend to have less sodium and I’m able to regulate how much chicken flavor the recipe needs. Another benefit is the amount you can make. You’re ready if a recipe calls for 1 quart or ¼ cup. However, if you prefer organic or less sodium, there are some great broths available. I highly recommend you steer away from bouillon cubes, the sodium content is too high and they lack in true chicken flavor. And, if time allows, there is nothing liking using your own homemade chicken stock.
Carrots: One would think a carrot is a carrot. Not true. We all try to purchase local produce when it’s in season. Winter time is a challenge, or really, not an option. But there is one very special local product available – The Winter Carrot. Their flavor is sweet, their texture crunchy. I’ve heard several people say they like them better than summer carrots. Considering this recipe is Cheese, Potatoes and Carrots, the carrot plays a major role. So, find local winter carrots or use the packaged carrots. But, don’t use baby carrots. They lack flavor and will just add color to your soup.
Cheddar Cheese: Use a sharp or extra sharp cheddar. Avoid cheddars that aged over a year. They will be difficult to melt due to their low moisture content. I like 1885 English Cheddar. It has a deep cheddar flavor and melts well in the soup. It’s also a great cheese served with crackers, whole grain mustard & cornichons. So, nothing will go to waste. You can also use a Double Gloucester from England.
Ale: Everyone always thinks about wine & food pairings. The same holds true for beer and food. When cooking with beer, it has a direct effect on your end results. I used North 45 Amber Ale from Petoskey Brewery in this recipe. An Amber Ale works nicely in this soup because their flavor is balanced with toasted malt characters and a light fruity finish. They have enough flavor to enhance the soup without over powering. Other complimentary Ales would be Goose Island Honker’s Ale from Chicago or Bass Ale (originally brewed in England). Ham: I listed two hams that could be added to the recipe.
PIT Ham: A wonderful old fashioned ham that is available at the deli counter. The nice thing about PIT ham is you can purchase just the amount you need. Beeler’s All Natural Ham: Raised without antibiotics and hormones, this ham has a light smoky flavor which doesn’t overpower the soup. Bacon: I use local Circle M Bacon. It has a light smoky flavor and meaty texture. I, also, mentioned Duck Bacon. It’s made from duck breasts and has 57% less fat and 26% less sodium than pork bacon.