The only way to make Sconnie Beer Cheese soup is to use local ingredients, state-brewed beer and Wisconsin-made cheese. You can't help but notice the cheese chalets along our interstate highway roads, Mars Cheese Castle for example. You can't help but notice tailgaters or football parties displaying platters of cheeses and kegs of beer. It sounds like a riot, doesn't it? That is how we do it in Wisconsin, with moderation of course....(not really)
It was hard to finalize a choice of what sconnie beer would work best for the soup. Sure, you have the Miller beers but nah, too light and void of real, real beer flavor. I love Schlitz Tall Boys and it cooks well but not for the soup, works better for beer brats.
We have a ton of Milwaukee breweries putting out fine brews and ales like Lakefront Brewery, Sprecher, Milwaukee Brewing Company, Leinekugels (also brews in Chippewa Falls), great brewery in Stevens Point, Point Brewery or a ton a awesome breweries in the Madison area: Capital, Tyranena, New Glarus.
And I can't forget to mention the hundreds of microbreweries in Wisconsin as well: Lake Louie-Arena, Horny Goat-Milwaukee, Sand Creek-Black River Falls, Gray's-Janesville, Central Waters-Amherst, Potosi Brewery-Potosi.
Oh I almost forgot to mention the Brewpubs. Some of the best beer is made from Wisconsin brewpubs: Great Dane and Ale Asylum in Madison, Hinterland in Green Bay, Milwaukee Ale House in Milwaukee, and Pearl Street Brewery in LaCrosse. I could go on and on.
But after dreaming about different beers, I narrowed it down to two beers: Hinterland's Pale Ale and Lakefront's Fixed Gear Red Ale. I chose Lakefront's Fixed Gear Red Ale for the deep red ale flavor. I think it will work well for the beer cheese soup.
My knowledge of cheese isn't as extensive as beer but one cheese company that stands out is Merkts. They make plenty of fine cheese spreads from port wine to beer cheese. Merkts sharp cheddar has become a favorite for grillers with the creation of the Merkts' Burger, melting a heaping stack of Merkts cheddar on top of a grilled burger. There is nothing else like it. Merkts sharp cheddar cheese spread will be my cheesy base, along with some Crystal Farms shredded cheddar (Lake Mills, WI).
Where is the pork product you wonder? Like most soups with bacon, it is just a garnish but it is not to be taken lightly. The bacon garnish adds a ton of flavor-smoky, crispy, fatty goodness to the dish. Since I am out of my own home-cured bacon, I went with the next best thing-Nueske's Thick-Sliced Peppered Bacon. The company is based in Wittenberg, WI.
For the Sconnie Beer Cheese soup, you will need:
- 1.5 cups chopped carrots, onion, celery
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups beer
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups half and half cream
- 4 cups shredded cheese, I also used 1 cup of Merkt's cheese spread
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
- chopped bacon, for garnish
- chopped green onion, for garnish
Sweat carrots, onions, and celery in butter for 10 minutes. Add garlic, cook additional minute. Add flour, a bit at a time and stir constantly. Cook for a few minutes. Stir in half and half cream, beer, broth, mustards, and Whorchestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, slowly and gradually add cheese while stirring.
Ladle into bowl and garnish with bacon and green onion.
Served with Pabst Blue Ribbon and a pretzel bread roll.
First off, the soup was a knockout! Creamy cheese with crunchy vegatables topped with crispy bacon, mop it up with pretzel bread, wash it down with a cold brew. Is there anything better??!?!?! The bacon did add a nice smokiness to the dairy-laden dish. The soup was also at the right amount of thickness. It should not be runny and watery. You also need a tasty slice of bread with a bowl of soup and the pretzel roll was perfect. I know sconnies garnish their beer cheese soups with popcorn or crushed pretzels but the pretzel roll surpasses those options.
It is Week 2 of the NFL and Green Bay Packer season and this soup was timed just right for another Packers win versus the Buffalo Bills. Good comfort food matched with good football.