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 my favorite. 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 again!
Beer Cheese Tomato Soup Recipe
Basic Beer Cheese
4 oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tsp Worcestershiresauce
1 tbsp hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
¼ cup beer
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 lbs tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
In a small food processor, add the cheese, 1/8 cup onion, 1 clove garlic, Worcestershiresauce and hot sauce. Pulse until the ingredients are blended. Pour in the beer and continue to pulse until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Set aside.
In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high, and add the onion and garlic. 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. Puree until smooth.
Stir in the basil, sugar and red pepper. Add the salt and pepper. Return to the heat and simmer 2-3 minutes. Stir in the beer cheese. Serve warm. Makes 4-6 servings.
Lori Rice is a freelance writer, recipe developer, food photographer and nutritional scientist. Fake Food Free is a creative outlet that allows her to connect with people from around the world who share a love of travel, food culture and cooking.