Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup & Beer Bread
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I should just rename my blog “Liza’s Daughter’s Blog.” These days, it seems, I only make dishes that my mother has fed me or told me about. When I was home in CT for my sister’s wedding last month, I was welcomed with a steaming bowl of this Vermont cheddar cheese soup, a slice of spanakopita, warm homemade bread, and yogurt cake for dessert. I devoured every morsel then fell into a several-hour-long food coma. It was heaven.
It’s hard to find fault in lots of extra sharp cheddar cheese, tons of fresh thyme, and vegetables sautéed in rendered pancetta fat, but several unexpected ingredients — beer, mustard, worcestershire and Tabasco — make this soup truly special. Oh, it is just wonderful!
I find the method for making this soup interesting. Now, I have never made a cheesy soup before, so perhaps this method is standard, but in this recipe, the grated cheese is tossed with flour before being stirred into the hot milk. This mixture thickens in its own pot before being added to the pot of sautéed vegetables, beer, stock and sauces. And while I wouldn’t think to err from my mother’s detailed instructions, my auntie Marcy reported that this step cannot be omitted — if the cheese and milk (with or without the four) are added directly to the vegetable stock pot, the soup will never come together — it will just curdle and separate into a mess. So, be warned.
And while any bread would go well with this soup, I have been enjoying beer bread with it for the past week. I used to make beer bread all the time. Not sure why I stopped because it is the SIMPLEST bread to prepare. No kneading or rising is required. If ever you want homemade bread with dinner and fear you have no time, consider this recipe — it literally takes five minutes to assemble and 40 minutes to bake. Simps.
For a light but comforting meal, serve this soup with bread (perhaps beer bread) and a wintery salad of arugula, candied pecans, diced pear and blue cheese. Yum yum.Print
Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup
- Yield: 14 cups
Source: Mother Liza and Auntie Marcy
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 2 to 3 cups diced onions, from 2 to 3 onion
- 1 to 2 cups diced celery, from 4 to 5 stalks
- 2 cups diced carrots, from 4 to 5 carrots
- 2 cups diced red bell pepper, from 1 to 2 peppers
- 2 cups diced, peeled red potato, from 4 to 5
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 6 cups chicken stock, homemade is best
- 12 ounces beer
- 3.5 cups milk, 2% or whole
- 4 cups grated cheddar cheese, about 1 lb.
- 2/3 cup flour
- dashes Worcestershire
- dashes hot sauce
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Bread for serving
- In a large soup pot, heat pancetta over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until crisp and brown. Remove pancetta with slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
- In the rendered fat, sweat the onions, carrots, celery and pepper over medium heat for 15 minutes until soft. Note: If your pancetta wasn’t very fatty, add some oil to the pot.
- Add thyme, potato and chicken broth and simmer until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Add beer.
- Heat the milk in a separate pot until it just barely boils. Meanwhile, grate the cheese on the large-holed side of a grater and place it in a large Ziploc bag. Shake with the 2/3 cup flour. Add this cheese-flour mixture to the hot milk and stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture has thickened slightly.
- Add the milk mixture to the pot with veggies and stock. Add mustard, sauces and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk for a few minutes to avoid curdling.
- When serving, sprinkle some reserved pancetta in each bowl. Add more hot sauce to taste. Serve with bread.
- Yield: 1 loaf
butter for greasing the pan3 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking soda½ teaspoon baking powder1½ teaspoon kosher salt1 tablespoon sugar1 beer, I like Magic Hat #9 or any amber ale or Bass or whatever4 tablespoons butter
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Grease a 9X5X3-inch loaf pan (a standard loaf pan) with softened butter.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add beer, stir until combined and place in prepared pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375ºF and bake for 30 minutes longer (or less) or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and place pan on a cooling rack. Let bread sit in pan.
- Meanwhile, melt butter. Pour the butter over bread. Let sit for five minutes then turn bread out onto a cutting board and serve immediately with more softened butter.
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58 Comments on “Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup & Beer Bread”
Hey Ali, Happy new year!
Even though you’ve been gone for quite a bit again, all is forgiven with this heavenly meal (and looking at the prep only reinforces its heavenliness 🙂 (pancettaaaa!)
Beer bread and beer soup….I am quite sure this is all delicious any time of year.
I want that bread ASAP! Holy cow!
Oooh such a delicious and perfect meal for this time of year – when it is positively FREEZING and you need something homey to warm your soul…looks fabulous.
This sounds really good. I used to make beer bread, too, but haven’t in ages! Your photos are gorgeous!
omigosh Liza’s daughter, what an amazing feast! ooh what I would give for a slice of that bread… toasted with buttah…
What a fabulous combo! That bread goes perfectly well with the soup. flavorful!
It sounds perfect for this cold weather!
That seems like a lot of work. But, I would love a bowl of that right about now
That looks so wonderful! I love cheese soup and have been trying to find one that I can eat on par with my new years resolutions. Well, this looks to be about 290 calories a cup! Exciting!
I too used to make beer bread all the time but haven’t made it in years, thanks for the perfect excuse to make it again.
Aren’t we lucky to have wonderful family recipes that have been passed down to us. I treasure mine. Love cheddar cheese soup and your beer bread looks fantastic. Looking forward to trying it.
Oh yum! Now, far be it for me to tell your aunty Marcy she’s wrong BUT another method that works is to add a little slaked cornflour to the mixture just before the end. It brings it together fine!
I’m going to make this soup and bread today! Just this a.m. I was wondering why we hadn’t read anything from your kitchen. Thanks for sharing.
Ummm, I’ll take a bowl of the soup and a full loaf of that beer bread too. Please!
Really looking forward to trying this- what company’s cheese did you use? Would you go for a white or orange Cheddar? And thanks for the beer bread recipe!
this looks FAB-U-LESS!! heading to the kitchen to make it right this very minute!!!
I’ll be making the soup, at least, this weekend for sure. I like the flour shaken up with the cheese idea — but of course a standard roux mixed into the heated milk, with cheese melted into that, would work as well. But this is so easy, as long as it does not taste “floury” it’s a great way to do it.
Beer bread — how well do you think whole wheat pastry or bread flour would work for this? I have a very hard time justifying white flour for most things (it’s such a specialty-treat kind of super-processing .. for something as simple as bread it seems a shame to lose all the goodness of the grain).
I made the bread with 2 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (Gold Medal) and it is great! I can’t believe it worked. Thank you for the recipe.
Ellen – really good to hear about he whole wheat flour. You said 2 3/4 cups — does that mean you also used a 1/4 cup of white, or does whole wheat for some reason just need less total volume of flour?
There have been recipes for beer and cheese bread that sounded perfect, but maybe it’s better to separate those flavors out between two different foods. Easier to taste how well they enhance whatever dish they are in.
interesting soup recipe–i’ve never seen that particular method before either, but it appears to create a masterful bowl of food! and that bread–come on! it looks so hearty and dense and perfect for soaking up the soup–bravo!
This soup sounds so very decadent and fabulous! All that cheesy goodness has got to be way yummy! I am liking the idea of the beer bread. Beautiful photos!
Just made both of these recipes and they were awesome together. Left out the pancetta and used (homemade) vegetable stock as I’m a vegetarian. My fiance totally loved this and the smell of the bread baking was intoxicating!
The Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup + Beer Bread lived up to your descriptions! Just lovely!! 2 questions – maybe I mis-read the recipe but do you add all the pancetta except enough to decorate? That’s what I ended up doing.
Do I need to worry about how to reheat?
Thank you for your wonderful cooking and pictures.
Has anybody tried the bread recipe with dark beers? It’s the only thing I ever have in the house and I wonder how it would affect the recipe. Hopefully for the better!
I am in love with beer bread and can’t wait to try this!
FYI, Kirstin, the darker beers I’ve tried (and I used Guiness once) just made the bread darker in color and taste. If you like dark beer, why not? What could possibly go wrong?
The photo of the diced vegetables is stunning! look at those vibrant colors! Auntie Marcy is correct – no deviating from mama’s recipes! I adore little tips like that. 🙂
Meow! what delicious bread. just made 1 loaf with sam adams and 1 loaf with harpoon IPA. i’ll let you know which is better. XXOXO
These recipes sound wonderful. I love soup and I believe this bread of yours must be delicious!