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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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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Nov 26, 2013

Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup

Libations used: 1 bottle of pumpkin ale...
Libations left over: None, unless ya bought a six-pack...
I had one lonely bottle of KBC Pumpkin Ale kicking around in the fridge and it was just begging me to cook or bake something with it.  I was craving soup and this Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup from Spoon Fork Bacon with some garlicky sourdough croutons looked like the ultimate comfort dinner on a chilly fall night.  It's a fairly quick soup to make, so great for those lazy Sunday nights or week day.  I'm sure you could use any light beer you wanted, but the pumpkin flavor is so much fun and lends it a little seasonal spice.

Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup - serves 4
Ingredients for the soup:
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 rib of celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 Tbs minced thyme
  • One 12 oz bottle of pumpkin ale (I used KBC)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Ingredients for the croutons:
  • 1 1/2-2 cups diced sourdough bread
  • 3 1/2 Tbs melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
To make the soup:
- Pour the olive oil into a medium pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and leek and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until they become translucent.
- Add the garlic, carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper.
- Sauté for 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the thyme.
- Add the beer and chicken broth and let the mixture simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the veggies are fork tender.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- In another medium pot, melt the butter.
- Whisk in the flour to create a roux and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes.
- Whisk in the milk, until no lumps remain and the mixture thickens.
- Stir in the pumpkin purée until smooth.
- In a large bowl, toss the cheddar cheese with the lemon juice.
- Add the cheese to the roux and stir until smooth.
- Stir in the mustard, paprika and nutmeg.
- Pour the cheese and broth mixture into a blender and purée until smooth.
- Pour the soup back into one of the pots or Dutch oven and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until it thickens slightly.

To make the croutons:
- While the soup is cooking, place all crouton ingredients into a medium bowl and toss together until evenly coated.
- Pour croutons into a large skilled over medium heat.
- Toast them for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently so they're evenly browned.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool and crisp up.
- Top each bowl of soup with croutons.