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Monday, January 30, 2012

Jonathon Erdeljac's Beer-and-Cheddar Soup

I'm anxious to visit Jonathon Erdeljac's new Oak Cliff restaurant, Jonathon's Oak Cliff.  In the meantime, I made his Beer-and-Cheddar Soup recipe, which has received the stamp of approval from my family.  My version of this soup doesn't make the prettiest picture, as I sacrificed vanity in favor of flavor and used my favorite Cabot extra sharp white cheddar instead of yellow cheddar.  I think this recipe has the perfect ratio of broth to cheese to beer, very savory, not cloyingly cheesy, no overpowering elements.  We try to limit our simple carbs, so we didn't serve the soup with the garlic-rubbed toasts as the recipe calls for, but that would certainly be a great textural addition.  And I didn't have a jalapeno handy, so I used a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper instead. 

Jonathon Erdeljac's Beer-and-Cheddar Soup

2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Garlic-rubbed toasts, for serving
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
One 12-ounce bottle lager or pilsner
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound piece of slab bacon, sliced 1/3 inch thick and cut into 1/3-inch dice
About 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded

1.  In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl. Add the celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

2.  In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk this roux into the soup until incorporated and bring to a simmer.  Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth if the soup is too thick. Serve the soup with garlic toasts.

Make Ahead:  The cheddar soup can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm gently and thin with additional broth.

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