Vermont Cheddar Cheese & Beer Soup, Vegetarian
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Whenever I return home for a big holiday, I can expect to find two things in my mother’s fridge: an enormous pot of Vermont Cheddar cheese soup and an enormous pan of spanakopita. These two easily reheatable items become lunch for everyone in attendance, often around 16 adults and children total, for the duration of the visit.
This past Christmas was no different: every day around noon, out came the giant vessels along with the plates, the mugs, and, of course, the bread. And no sooner was the soup simmering and the spanakopita crisping was everyone standing around the kitchen counter, mugs in hand, the little ones on stools, clanking and slurping away. It is a heavenly, soul-warming lunch.
This year a number of the children, including my son, gobbled up the soup as enthusiastically as the adults, and upon returning home, he asked: Can you make Yiayia’s Vermont cheddar cheese soup? Yesterday, when I awoke to -9ºF morning, it was time.
I will not pretend this is a fast soup — there are lots of vegetables to chop and cheese to grate, and it’s critically (*see below) a two-pot process — but it yields a ton: about 6 quarts, and yes, it freezes beautifully!
Yesterday, I made a few small changes to the original recipe: I replaced the pancetta with olive oil, and I used vegetable stock in place of chicken. Friendly reminder: vegetable stock takes 30 minutes to make, and I made mine in the time it took to chop all of the soup vegetables. As I trimmed away carrot ends, celery bottoms, and pepper tops, into the stockpot they went, too.
When I served the soup to my children, who have annoyingly discerning palates — there’s no sneaking anything but Heinz or Hellmann’s by them — I wondered if they might notice the subtle changes to the soup, if they might say something like: It’s good, but it tastes different than Yiayia’s.
Much to my relief they did not. With a loaf of ciabatta by their side, they devoured it, and when my son asked if I could pack the soup in his Thermos for lunch next week, my heart swelled with joy.
As with most soups, this one gets better by the day. And if you’re looking for a Sunday project, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed tackling this one.
PS: 15+ Warming Soups for Winter
How to Make Vermont Cheddar Cheese & Beer Soup
Gather your ingredients:
Then, get chopping. There’s no need to peel the carrots unless they are very dirty:
But do peel the potatoes:
Admire your hard work — this part of the recipe is time-consuming, but with a good podcast streaming in the background, time will fly.
Add the vegetables to the pot with some olive oil and salt:
Stir to combine.
Then sweat them, covered, for 15 minutes:
Add the potatoes and stock to the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potato is soft.
I’m using homemade vegetable stock, which came together in the time it took me to chop all of the vegetables. As I trimmed peppers and carrots and celery, etc., I dropped those trimmings into the pot while it simmered. All trimmings with the exception of the potato peels are welcome to the stockpot.
Meanwhile, grate the cheese. If you have a food processor, use the shredder attachment and run the cheese down the food chute:
Place it in a large bowl and toss with 2/3 cup flour:
Then add it to a pot of hot milk. Stir until the cheese melts and the mixture thickens.
*This is a critical step — you, unfortunately, cannot simply add the milk to the pot with the floured cheese. The soup will never thicken or emulsify properly. Don’t skip this step… I’ve tried!
Meanwhile, add a beer to the soup pot:
Then add the cheese sauce along with the mustard, Worcestershire, and hot sauce:
Stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir frequently at this step while the soup simmers for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
And if you forget to add the thyme earlier on in the process as instructed in the recipe, you can always add it at the end!
Serve the soup with lots of delicious bread. I’ve been making this ciabatta, but my mother’s peasant bread or this focaccia would be great choices as well.Print
Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup (Vegetarian)
- Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
- Yield: 6 quarts
- Diet: Vegetarian
Adapted from my mother and my Vermont auntie Marcy’s recipe. The original recipe, which calls for pancetta and chicken stock, can be found here.
- Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian, so if you are adhering to a vegetarian diet, omit it, or seek out a vegetarian/vegan variety of Worcestershire sauce.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 to 4 cups diced onions, from 2 to 3 onion
- 2 to 3 cups diced celery, from 1 small head
- 3 to 4 cups diced carrots, 5 to 6 carrots
- 2 to 4 cups diced red bell pepper, from 2 peppers
- 2 to 3 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, leaves removed from stems
- 6 cups vegetable stock or water
- 12 ounces beer
- 3.5 cups milk, 2% or whole
- 4 cups grated cheddar cheese, about 1 lb.
- 2/3 cup flour
- dashes Worcestershire, see notes above
- dashes hot sauce
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Bread for serving
- Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat. When it shimmers, add the onions, carrots, celery, and pepper. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Give it a stir. Cover the pot and immediately turn the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the thyme, potato, and stock, and simmer until the potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the beer.
- Heat the milk in a separate pot until it just barely boils. Place the cheese in a large bowl, and toss it 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 vegetables and stock. Add the mustard, sauces, and salt and pepper to taste — I add at least 2 teaspoons kosher salt. At this point, it’s important to stir often as the ingredients will try to stick to the bottom of the pot. Simmer gently for at least 10 minutes. The soup will thicken as time goes on — as the liquids reduce and as the potato continues to release starch as it breaks down.
- Taste again before serve with bread.
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cheddar, cheese, soup, vegetarian
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
85 Comments on “Vermont Cheddar Cheese & Beer Soup, Vegetarian”
I’m just curious. Why would you serve soup to children that has alcohol in it? The idea of alcohol evaporating during the cooking process is largely a myth. See: https://www.isu.edu/news/2019-fall/no-worries-the-alcohol-burns-off-during-cookingbut-does-it-really.html#:~:text=The%20verdict%3A%20after%20cooking%2C%20the,4%20percent%20to%2095%20percent.&text=Beer%20cheese%20sauce%2C%20bourbon%20caramel,85%20percent%20of%20the%20alcohol, and many other sources on the internet say the same thing. Alcohol is not eliminated due to cooking.
Thank you for sending this. I had always thought alcohol disappeared completely, so I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.
I did just do some math. There are about 88 ounces of liquid in this soup (9.5 cups x 8 ounces = 76 ounces + 12 ounces = 88 ounces). I googled how much alcohol is in a 12 ounce beer, and the answer I got was about 14 grams, which equals 0.5 ounces. So, in the entire pot (88 ounces), there are 0.5 ounces of alcohol, and if some of that cooks off, the amount is even less. Obviously I am not trying to harm my children, but I don’t think that’s an amount that calls for concern? Of course, simply omit the beer if this amount worries you.
Thank you for writing.
I just tried doing the math and got different number(i warned math isnt my strong point) but I thinkI started with a larger yield. I think its safe to say there is very little alcohol in this soup haha
Agreed! Thank you, Ashley. I like your number 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thank you for responding! Of course I would not want children to be exposed to ANY alcohol nor do I want to be exposed to alcohol. That’s why I don’t use things like kombucha, etc. On a personal note, alcohol problems run in my family so the last thing I’d want to do is introduce it, even in small amounts, to children. To me, that’s really scary. I’m sure others do not feel as strongly about this as I do but do think the problem is more common that many people realize! Thanks again!
A gentle reminder that we do not pay for Alex’s content. If you have a concern let’s be mindful of her feelings as well as the time effort costs that go into each one.
Addie’s Mom: Your comment was unnecessary and rather cruel. I was merely providing what I think is valuable information – information which is not widely known. Figures – there’s trolls everywhere, even when one tries to be helpful.
Addie’s Mom: Thank you 💕💕💕
Thanks for sharing that article. It’s true that alcohol doesn’t completely cook off but I just did a quick calculation for this recipe in particular.
It looks like a 1 cup serving of this soup has about 0.06 oz of beer…a standard serving of beer (12 oz) has about 5% alcohol. So, a 1 cup serving of this soup has a trace amount of alcohol (0.003 ABV) before cooking. Math isn’t my strong point but it’s pretty clear this soup is very low in alcohol before cooking!
So, unless you avoid alcohol for religious or other medical/personal reasons, I don’t see the harm in serving this soup to children.
Thank you Ashley 🙂 🙂 :). Math is not my strong suit either, and I really had to rack my brain for the calculation I added above, which is totally pathetic 🤣
Thank you so much for also doing the MATH!
By the way, I truly love your recipes but thought you might not be aware of this myth about alcohol. Thanks for all you do! I’m always delighted to see new recipes from you!
Hi, Ali, This looks wonderful as always! What do you recommend as a substitute for beer for those who cannot have alcohol? Would non-alcoholic beer do the trick? Thanks.
Hi Anne! Yes, a non-alcoholic beer would do the trick. Or simply omit it … plenty of flavor going on without it 🙂
This looks delicious! Do you have any information on making a gluten-free option? I would love to know any feedback from others, as various gf flour blends perform differently in different recipes.
Hi Kathy! I have not tried, but I think a smaller amount (as in less than 2/3 cup) of either rice flour or cornstarch would do the trick — I bet 2 tablespoons of cornstarch would do it. I would google “gluten-free cheddar cheese soup” which I think will give you your answer as to how much gf thickening agent you need. Hope you find your answer 🙂
thanks so much–indeed found an option. Can’t wait to try this!
I would also suggest pureeing a cooked potato or some cooked white beans and stirring them in. Either would work to thicken the soup.
Smart! Love these ideas. This is definitely one of those soups, too, that gets thicker as the days pass… the potatoes break down further, and I think every time you reheat it, the overall liquid reduces, so it almost tastes like a creamy soup by day 2-3 🙂 🙂 🙂
Great recipe, but Worcestershire is not not not vegetarian – it contains anchovies. There are vegetarian Worcestershire sauces but the standard has anchovies.
You are so right… this dawned on me while walking today, and when I returned home, there was your comment. Editing the post now. Thanks!
Lately, I have been serving soup a couple times a week for dinner. Thanks for this post as I’m sure I I will be adding a few of these to the rotation.
Quick question, as we only are two at home, have you tried freezing? I usually freeze my leftovers in plastic quart containers (which I learned to label and date which was a game changer for me). Forgive me if you’ve already answered this question.
BTW, your kids are right! There is no substitution for either Hellmann’s mayo or Heinz ketchup IMHO.
“…and yes, it freezes beautifully!”
From this post
Thank you, Tina 💕💕💕
Pattie, the older I get, I tend to agree with the children more and more, and I do appreciate their discerning palates 🤣🤣🤣
I need to get better at labeling my freezer contents… I always think: Oh, I’ll know what this is 6 months down the line. Wrong.
Yes, you can freeze this soup. I freeze it in quart containers as well. Hope all is well!
Hi Ali, I’m dying to try this, I love everything I have ever made of yours – would you mind clarifying what type of beer you use, I’m guessing an ale of some sort? Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.
Hi Renee! Thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂
Yes, any sort of ale will do. I used an IPA from a local company, but any ale will do.
Just made a batch of your Pea Soup (thanks mom!), so this cheddar soup will be next! Curious what type of beer you think is best flavor wise. Your soups and bread are helping us get through this bitter cold. Thanks, Ali!
Yes is it possible to advise the type of beer to be used. I am not a beer drinker and haven’t a clue about beers lol. Thx so much 🙌☺️
Hi Sharon! Most recently, I used an IPA but any ale will do. I would suggest a brand, but I rarely drink beer anymore, and when I do, it’s just local stuff. So, if you have a local brand you want to support, go for it, otherwise, just pick up any IPA you see 🙂
Oh yay! So great to hear this, Leslie. I think any sort of ale is best. In this latest batch, I used an IPA from a local company, but any ale will do. I think the rule of thumb, additionally, is to you a beer you like the taste of. That said, there is no trace of beer flavor in the soup, so if you’re not a beer drinker, just pick up any ale you find 🙂
Hi Ali! Do you have a replacement suggestion for the Worcestershire sauce? We have a fish allergy in our house, so I’m not able to use it. Thanks!
There are several brands that make Worcestershire without fish. Annie’s is the one I have.
Can’t wait to try this recipe! It looks delicious.
Thanks so much for the recommendation! Added it to the recipe notes 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hi Christina! You can either omit it or use a vegan Worcestershire sauce, such as this one: Annie’s
Coconut aminos are also a good substitute for Worcestershire (and also soy sauce)
Alexandra, this looks wonderful! I’m going to make this soon, beer and all! Thanks for posting such great content.
Thank you, Catherine 🙂 🙂 🙂 Hope you love it 💕💕💕💕
Eventhough I had made a pot of chili last night when I woke up this morning and it was 44 degrees in Miami, Florida – I knew I had to make this today. It did require quite a bit of chopping BUT it really wasn’t that bad. I wish there was a video of this coming together. I second guessed myself throughout the prep and cooking process. In the end I’m happy with the result but it does feel like something is missing. I added an IPA for the beer and it tastes beer-y to me ?! Not sure if anything can be done about that.
Also I wish I would’ve chopped my veg smaller. I KNOW my kids are going to complain or refuse to eat it.
Would am immersion blender be too much for this soup?
I definitely will try again with some tweaks. And maybe a video from Alexandra 😉
Hi! Next time I make this, which will be soon, I will add a video. I think you could definitely give it a few pulses with an immersion blender. I think the beer taste should dissipate upon reheating… have you found it to become more subtle with time? I don’t taste the beer when I make this, but I wonder if I’m using a milder-tasting beer.
Hi Alexandra – so the beer-y taste never really went away completely. I think it may have been due to the combination of the beer and the extra sharp Vermont cheddar. I have two tupperwares in the freezer. When I thaw I may add a small amount of a more mild cheese sauce and more stock.
I used a Ninkasi dawn of the red and it left a bitter edge. I would definitely try something different in the future. I also wanted to add that this soup FILLED my 6 qt pot, so don’t even think about using anything smaller or you will be cleaning two pots (like me).
Another great recipe of yours! Just finished making this wonderful soup My adult son is allergic to fish so used a splash of soya sauce Worked great Loved the taste of beer in the soup It really added flavour
Thanks sooo much for all you do.
So nice to hear this, Pat! Great to hear the soya sauce worked great, and I’m so glad you liked the beer flavor. Thanks so much for writing and thank you for your kind words 💕💕💕💕
Nice recipe! I am fine with the beer – sounds delicious. I may puree it some. I like the idea of all the vegetables but the cold weather makes me want creamy soups. Thanks for the cooking inspiration!
I hear you, Claire! Creamy soups hit the spot this time of year. Thanks for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
I made this recipe today and it is one of the best soups I’ve ever done. I do a lot of homemade soups. While it was a little labor intensive, the flavor is amazing and the texture wonderful. I would like to know if this soup freezes well as the kettle is pretty big and I can only pass it off to so many people. I love the chunks of veggies. Ali, you are the greatest!
So nice to hear this, Janet! Thanks so much for writing and thank you for your kind words 🙂 🙂 🙂 Yes, it freezes beautifully! Have a great rest of your week 💕
Made it today and it is divine! I used one cup of whole milk and two and a half cups of oat milk. This was because I had an abundance of oat milk that needed to be used up. I mixed red and yellow onions, mostly for visual interest. Another great recipe! Thanks Ali. I really enjoy your recipes and your blog posts. Keep them coming!
So nice to hear this, Isobel! All of your adaptations sound wonderful! Thank you for your kind words 🙂
THIS IS UN B E L I E V E A B L E……Ali…I have been following you for so many years and have loved SO many of your recipes, but I have to say, you have TRULY outdone yourself this time. I have your cookbook which is quite stained from so much use, but this soup… YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM….with the focaccia (which I make all the time)….just a match made in heaven. THANK you Ali, you’re the best and this is just incredible!!!! I would rate this a TWENTY!!!!!!!!
Awwwww Judi 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you so, so much for all of this. Means the world to read. Focaccia is such a good soup bread… great for dunking! I’m so glad you liked this one. Thank you for writing 💕💕💕💕
Ali — Wow … this soup is so delicious! So much flavor! I used 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard instead of the Dijon … perfect! To accompany the soup, I made the cheddar-parmesan bread from your BTC book … what a great meal, especially on a cold snowy night like this. Thank you so much!!!
So nice to hear this, Lin! And yay for cheddar cheese-parmesan bread … a perfect combo! I could live on soup and bread this time of year. Thanks for writing!
When I saw the post, I knew I had to cook this recipe. It’s as Ali described. Perfection!
Great to hear, Sherry! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Ali, I’m about to start chopping all the veggies. I have a 6 qt. And 8 qt. Dutch oven. You indicate a 6 qt. yield, but I want to check before I lug that big pot out. Weighs a ton! Silly question, but thanks.
Hi Leslie! I am clearly not getting to you in time. I definitely would use the 8 qt Dutch oven. What did you end up doing?
Problem solved. Made half for just two of us! Smells heavenly. Tastes gorgeous. Husband is drooling. Thanks for another winner, Ali. You’re the best.
So nice to hear this, Leslie! Thanks so much for your kind words 🙂 🙂 🙂
To everyone commenting on the alcohol, it is so unbelievably inconsequential that the recipe should not be questioned. if you have personable beliefs about alcohol, that’s fine – but while all the alcohol doesn’t evaporate, fruit has alcohol, bread has alcohol. This isn’t a rum baba.
When I first saw this recipe, I wasn’t sure. It seemed almost over the top; even though there were a lot of vegetables, there was also a whole pound of cheese, beer, flour, and optional pancetta. The yield is 6 quarts but even so, it seemed like a lot.
But every time I looked at the picture, the soup looked silken and light, not gloppy and thick. So, I dove in and decided to make it for me and my friend Karen’s Galentines’ Day 2022 baking and eating weekend — and I’m really glad I did!
This is a great soup. I followed the recipe, except I used chicken stock instead of water and I didn’t add the pancetta. The amber ale definitely added flavor (I don’t like to drink beer but as a flavor enhancer it worked beautifully). I staggered the vegetables and cooked them carefully because I was hoping for to stay somewhat firm at the end and that part worked out great, even after reheating.
What was new to me, and what I found to be ingenious, is how the cheese was handled before it was added to the soup. I followed the instructions precisely and ended up with a silken liquidy rather than stewy and thick. I’ve made soups with cheese before but often the cheese just ends up being liquidy clumps rather than complete incorporated. I’m going to remember this technique for future cheesy soups.
This is definitely going into the fall/winter rotation. Thank you for another great recipe; so glad your Mom was willing to share!
Kind regards, Susanna in Seattle
So nice to read all of this, Susanna! I am always astonished by how “brothy” the texture of this soup is compared to most cheese-y soups I eat. It definitely tastes “light” … whether it is or not is another question 🙂 I think the method of tossing the cheese with the flour is really key to ensure the texture is silken, not gloppy. Thanks so much for writing!
This was the first recipe I tried from your site since seeing your bread recipe on Cup of Jo. It was AMAZING! I halved the recipe because I wasn’t sure if everyone in my house would like it and lets just say that was a terrible decision. It was so darn good I kick myself for not making the full batch, thanks for an awesome recipe!
So great to hear this, Jocelyn! Thanks for writing. Love Cup of Jo so much 💕💕💕💕💕
This looks DELICIOUS. I’ve added it to my meal plan for this week and am pumped to have the excuse to buy a 6 pack of fancy IPAs since I don’t normally drink much beer (anymore 😄). I’m sure my whole family will enjoy this recipe. Thanks for another good one!
Hope you love the soup (& the beer!) Maggie 🙂 🙂 🙂
DELICIOUS. Thanks so much, Ali. My family was skeptical when I told them the name of what I was cooking–they thought it sounded gloopy, I guess–but then they devoured very non-gloopy, deliciously brothy bowlfuls and asked for more. I’ve made SO many of your recipes at this point, Ali, and honestly, you’ve never once steered me wrong. Thank you for another winner and happy holidays!
So nice to hear this, Launa 🙂 🙂 🙂 This is a favorite of mine this time of year. So glad the skeptics approved!
Delicious! People really liked all the vegetables in the soup.
Great to hear, Amber!
Ali — This soup is beyond delicious, I make it often and sub a little dry mustard for the Dijon. I always keep a supply of your cheddar-parm bread in the freezer, sliced and ready for toasting — perfect! Thank you for this and all your recipes!
So nice to read all of this, Lin! Thanks so much for writing. That cheddar parm bread is one of my favorites 🙂 🙂 🙂
What is hot sauce. It is not a familiar ingredient in the UK. What would be a good substitute?
Hi James! Do you have Tabasco? Hot sauce here is a vinegar-based, spicy sauce that is often sold in small bottles. Do you have anything similar? Alternatively, you could use a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to add heat.
I made this tonight and the time it took was worth it and it was amazing! Rich but not too thick, loved all the veggies too. I didn’t use Vermont cheddar but Tillamook’s aged extra sharp white cheddar and it worked really well. This will be going into the rotation. Thank you!
Wonderful to hear this, Melissa! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes 🙂 🙂 🙂
Delicious! Made this last night and my entire family loved it. This will definitely become a regular for us. I might even make it for the Super Bowl.
So nice to hear this, Joan! Thanks for writing 🙂
I just made this for dinner and oh my, it is delicious! I added some shredded chicken to bulk it up a bit. I used one of the choppers that are popular on the internets these days – a gridded blade that you set your veggies on and use the lid to push them through. I honestly haven’t found much use for it in my kitchen but it was perfect for this. Thanks for yet another great recipe!
Great to hear! And how nice to have a chopping assistant for this recipe! Glad it worked well here. Thanks so much for writing 🙂