Craft beer and cheese are two of my favorite things.
So I opted to try a quick and easy recipe from “The American Craft Beer Cookbook” that combines them.
This rich and smoky Cheddar Ale Soup comes from the O’Fallon Brewery in O’Fallon, Mo., and provides a flavorful warm-up on a cool autumn evening.
Plus, it goes great with beer.
Pair it with a glass of smoked porter from the recipe, like the Smoked NorthPorter from Northern Ales in Kettle Falls, Wash. Other breweries in Western states that make smoked porter include Stone Brewing in Escondido, Calif.; Alaskan Brewing in Juneau, Alaska; and Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham.
However, they can be difficult to find in Spokane. I found the Class of ’88 Imperial Smoked Porter from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., at Huckleberry’s Natural Market, 926 S. Monroe St.
For an additional layer of flavor, use Tillamook Smoked Medium Cheddar Cheese. And, top this savory soup with crumbled bits of crispy, applewood smoked bacon or roasted pumpkin seeds.
I’ve been experimenting with pumpkin seed seasonings this fall, coming up with Garlic Spice Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, which I sprinkled on my steaming Cheddar Ale Soup.
Cheddar Ale Soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 5 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup smoked porter
Melt the butter in a large soup pot and add the flour as the butter begins to bubble. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent burning, until browned, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk about a cup at a time, adding more milk when it becomes absorbed into the roux. When the roux reaches a thick saucelike consistency, start adding the chicken broth, a cup at a time, whisking frequently. Add the cheese to the soup one handful at a time. Stir until the cheese is combined and fully melted before adding more cheese. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and beer and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Divide the soup among bowls and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Garlic Spice Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup raw, whole pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast until dry and toasted, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Yield: 4 servings