I love to cook. I actually have a degree from a culinary school, I love to cook so much. But I also love hockey, and blogging about hockey. So eventually, it dawned on me to combine the two. (Merrin enthusiastically volunteered to be a guinea pig for recipes). So here’s the first in what should hopefully be an ongoing series of how to eat like a Star.
Despite living in Texas where it’s a balmy 90 degrees today, to me hockey season signals the start of fall. And fall makes me want soup. And hockey makes me want beer. And I always want cheese. So I thought my first hockey inspired meal would have to encompass all of these things.
The good news? Beer & Cheese Soup is a pretty common Midwestern dish. And then because I had a bunch of kale in my fridge (and convinced myself that I needed SOME nutrients) I threw that in the pot as well.
The recipe I based my soup on is from thekitchn.com and you can follow those instructions exactly if you’d like. However, I made a few changes to my soup to make it a little bit cheaper and a bit more filling.
Here’s some advice for any recipe ever – do all of your prep work first. All the veggie chopping, cheese shredding, washing, peeling, whatever, get it all out of the way before you even think about putting something on the stove or in the oven. This will save you so much time and anguish as you attempt to cook. In the industry, this is known as ‘mise en place’ or colloquially just ‘mise’, and literally it is the first thing you learn to do as a chef.
Stars Style Beer & Cheese Soup
Difficulty rating: Intermediate
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
12 oz (1 Can) Rahr & Sons Pride of Texas Pale Ale
4 ounces room temperature cream cheese
4 cups (16 oz) freshly-grated sharp yellow cheddar (Do not buy the bags. Get the block of cheese & grate it yourself.)
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Dash Worcestershire sauce
½ head kale, washed and roughly chopped (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1) In a Dutch oven (or similar pot that you use for making soup, idk, I use my Dutch oven for basically everything), melt your butter over medium heat. Then add your onions, carrots and celery, and cook until they’re soft (~8min). Add the garlic and cook another minute or so, until fragrant.
2) Stir in the flour. It will get all sticky and start to toast – this is good. We’re making a roux, which is a good thickening agent for soups and stews. Allow to cook for 2 minutes until the flour is lightly golden.
3) You’ll need both hands or a helper for this next part. To make sure we don’t get any lumps, you need to pour the chicken stock slowly into the pot while whisking constantly. Once you’ve got all the liquid in there, bring your pot up to a gentle boil. Turn the heat back to Med-Low and simmer, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for around 40 minutes. (Note: The Kitchn wants you to strain out your vegetables at this point. For a ‘velvety’ soup, you should do so. But I leave the veggies in for a more ‘filling’ soup.)
4) Add the beer, Dijon mustard, and Worchestershire – then make sure your soup is back to a gentle simmer. Temperature of the soup is very important at this point – we’re going to add the cheese. If your soup isn’t simmering, it won’t melt properly. But if your soup is too hot (close to boiling) your cheese will separate and curdle.
5) Add the cream cheese, whisking constantly. If it’s not melting, adjust your heat, but don’t let it boil. Then add your cheddar cheese by the handful, still whisking. Once your broth is smooth and silky, add the milk, & salt and pepper it to taste.
6) OPTIONAL: If you’re adding kale as a vague effort at being nutritious, I recommend microwaving it a few seconds until it’s warmer than room temperature. I did not do this and it caused my cheese to clump up in the leaves. Add the kale while the soup simmers, it will cook quickly.
7) Serve with Stars Croutons
Difficulty: A toddler could do it
Prep Time: 2 min
Cook Time: 5 minutes
A few slices of good bread (I used HEB’s French Country Loaf)
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut croutons out of your bread slices and place on a cookie sheet. Butter the croutons liberally, and sprinkle with garlic powder and paprika.
2) Bake for 5 minutes, or until croutons are crispy and edges are starting to get golden brown.