When it comes to soup, tomato is my favorite. Before your mind jumps to visions of cans and concentrates, allow me to explain. Homemade tomato soup with fresh spices, splashes of balsamic vinegar and wines, and olive oil is what I’m talking about. I love it straight with basil, but sometimes I like to get fancy.
Enter beer cheese.
Okay, so maybe it’s not fancy, but it is a Kentucky staple. There is even a festival at which I had the opportunity to judge the competition last year. If you are unfamiliar, there are as many recipes as people who love it. But to simplify, it is cheddar and beer turned cheese spread. I’ve grown to love it, and I can no longer imagine a tailgate at a football game or at the horse track without it.
So when I was thinking about tomato soup for this round of the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, I first considered beer. Then I considered cheddar. Then, well, why not?
This recipe experiment is a winner. The mild tang of beer and the sharpness of cheddar pop with the sweet tomatoes. I may no longer be able to have tomato soup without beer cheese!
Beer Cheese Tomato Soup Recipe
Makes: 4-6 servings
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Basic Beer Cheese
- 4 oz. block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used sriracha)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup beer (any variety, I like to use lagers)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 lbs. tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- To make the beer cheese, to a small food processor add the cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons of onion, 1 clove garlic, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Pulse for 10 to 15 second intervals until the ingredients are blended. Pour in the beer and continue to pulse until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
- To make the soup, in a 4 to 5-quart soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the 1/4 cup of onion and 3 garlic cloves. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the onions soften. Add the tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes.
- Once the tomatoes begin to break down, remove the pot from the heat. Use an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a blender) to puree until smooth.
- Stir in the basil, sugar, salt, red pepper and black pepper. Return to the heat and simmer 2-3 minutes. Stir in the beer cheese. Serve warm.
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