Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Mar 27, 2012

Cheddar Ale Soup

Libations used: 1 cup beer
Libations left over: 1/3 bottle of beer, so polish that baby off
While other parts of the country have been experiencing sunny days and warm weather, it's been cold and rainy in Los Angeles.  I felt like I had been running and running for the past couple of weeks—a visit to Austin for SXSW, birthdays, friends visiting from out of town and a bunch of dinners with local friends I hadn't seen in a while.  I finally spent a peaceful day at home, listening to the rain fall and catching up on some reading.  This Cheddar Ale Soup from Williams & Sonoma was the perfect, comforting dish to whip up on a lazy Sunday evening.  The original recipe calls for bacon, but I used up some leftover pancetta and instead of croutons, I sprinkled some honey mustard pretzel pieces on top—that's how they serve beer-laced cheddar soup back in my home state.

Cheddar Ale Soup - serves 4
  • 4 thick-cut bacon slices, cut into 3 inch strips or 1 cup diced pancetta
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup pale ale (I used Blue Moon Hefeweizen)
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Toasted croutons or honey mustard pretzel pieces for garnish
  • Olio novello for drizzling
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon or pancetta until crisp (about 8 minutes for the bacon & 4-5 minutes for the pancetta).
-Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Discard all but 2 Tbs of the fat in the pot (I only ended up getting just under a Tbs).
- Reduce heat to medium and melt the butter.
- Add the onion, carrots & celery.
- Cover and cook until the vegetables are softened (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beer and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the Worcestershire, milk and chicken stock.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor or blender.
- Set the pot over medium-low heat and add the cheese by the handful, stirring constantly.  Do not allow the soup to boil!
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with croutons or pretzel pieces and drizzle with the olio novello.