This soup is a classic favorite not only in British pubs but also during the winter months across the United States.
I like to incorporate some aged Wisconsin cheddar, preferably something at least eight years or more in age blended with Dunbarton Blue or a more aged creamy blue cheese.
If your store does not carry cheddar listing its age on the label, look for a sharp or aged label and ask to taste if possible.
Stay away from overproduced, commercial-grade prepackaged plastic wrapped cheese food or creamy cheese food spread.
—Scott C. Anderson is associate food service director and chef with Shepherd University dining services in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Chef Ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Cheese & ale
3 ounces unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, small dice
2 large carrots, peeled and small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock (rich and flavorful)
2 pints Bass Ale (see cook's note)
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon favorite hot sauce (see cook's note)
2 large Yukon gold potatoes
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
6 ounces 8-year-aged cheddar, grated
4 ounces Dunbarton Blue, grated, or a creamy blue cheese, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Put butter into a large heavy bottom stockpot or pan. Bring to medium high heat and toss in onions, carrots and celery, stir and cover. Allow to cook down till the onions are translucent. Add in garlic, then stir in the flour to tighten up the butter to make a roux. Cook to incorporate the butter into the flour until it has a nice nutty smell, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the stock and beer; add in bay leaves and hot sauce. Bring to a rolling simmer, and then reduce heat to a slow simmer; add in diced potatoes, cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Stir in diluted cornstarch mixture. Raise the heat to medium high, and let cook until the soup thickens. Stir in cream, gradually stirring incheese, a little at a time, alternating between the two. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and add in a little more hot sauce to taste if needed.
When the soup has thickened and has a nice creamy consistency, remove from heat, and ladle into bowls, garnish with some extra grated cheese and a pinch of smoked paprika; serve with grilled thick artisan breads and fresh creamery butter.
Cook's note: If Bass Ale is unavailable use Guinness. Also, Chef Scott prefers Cholula or Sriracha brand hot sauces