Cheddar Ale Soup with Homemade Croutons

Last night I made a delicious new recipe. I found it on kind of a random blog but it was delicious! The croutons were absolutely fabulous in the soup and I made extra to have in salads. Enjoy!

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Cheddar Ale Soup with Homemade Croutons

6 thick-cut bacon slices, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pale ale (I actually used amber ale and it was delish)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk (I used part half and half and part 2%)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I had some Beechers Flagship that I added as well)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
croutons (optional, for garnish)

Set a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot.

Add the butter and give it a minute to melt, then mix in the onion, carrots and celery. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic, cooking just until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently (you’re just trying to get the raw flour flavor cooked off). Add the beer and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a thick paste, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the Worcestershire sauce, milk and chicken broth until smooth. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the soup come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to continue simmering for 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pot and puree the soup with an immersion blender (or, if you don’t have one, in a traditional blender – you’ll probably want to do it in 2 batches.)

Set the pan over medium-low heat and, stirring constantly, add the cheese a little at a time. Be careful not to allow the soup to boil. Continue until you’ve added all of the cheese and the soup is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the bacon and croutons.

Serves 6

Homemade Croutons

day old bread (I used French bread)
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to mix well.

Baked for about 15 minutes, or until the cubes are golden brown and crisp.

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