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What It’s Really Like Over Here {With Cheddar Ale Soup}

Sometimes I don’t know what to tell you, dear readers.  So for now I’ll just say:

It’s quiet here.

It’s one of those ordinary, unfussy nights when I talk on the phone and Scott makes omelets to order.

I’ve been listening to Van Morrison’s Vanlose Stairway.

Is there a sexier song?  Other than, maybe, Broken Social Scene’s Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl?

Speaking of sexy, did I tell you that I got a pair of overalls from the tractor supply store?

They’re a size small.  A tractor man’s small, so they’re actually quite roomy.  I don’t ever want to take them off.  I can fit a bag lunch and a soda in the chest pocket, which still leaves me 8 other pockets to stuff crap into.  I’ve never been more comfortable or organized in my whole life.

I keep my book in one of these pockets.  I’m reading The Book of Laughter And Forgetting, by Milan Kundera.  This paragraph, about a woman who swims away from an island, just. . . just punched me in the face.  In a good way.

Just where was she trying to go back to?  Prague?

She had even forgotten it existed. 

To the small town in the west of Europe?

No.  She simply wanted to go away.

Does that mean she wished to die?

No, no, not at all.  On the contrary, she had a terrific desire to live.

Then she must have had some idea of the world she wanted to live in!

She had none.  All she had left was a tremendous craving for life, and her body.  Nothing but these two things, nothing more.  She wanted to tear them away from the island and save them.  Her body and that craving for life.

But I don’t mean to drag you into my musings.  Shall I drag you to a bowl of cheddar and ale soup instead?

I usually shy away from cheesy soups.  I like my soups brothy, full of vegetables, and cream-free.  But I make an exception for this one: It’s basically a vegetable soup that you toss some cheddar into at the end.  (And some beer, if you like.  I’ve made it with the beer and without, and it’s great both ways.)  It’s fine to forgo the food processor and leave the vegetables chunky, too.

Perhaps you’re thinking “but if I eat cheddar ale soup, I won’t be able to fit into the fishnets and zip-up plastic leotard that I was planning to wear on Halloween!”

If you are thinking that, please slap yourself three times for me and then watch the awesomest pep talk of all time.  Behold Rosie O’Donnell in the movie “Beautiful Girls” (warning: an f-bomb or two, for those of you with kids next to you)–

~~~

Cheddar Ale Soup (with or without broccoli) {Download & Print Recipe}

Adapted from a recipe distributed by Whole Foods at the Southern Cheese Festival on October 6 in Nashville

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 c. chopped onions

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 c. chopped celery

1 c. diced carrot (cut into rounds and then cut some more)

5-6 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf (optional)

a dash of hot sauce, to taste

1/2 tsp. dry mustard (can substitute 1 tsp. prepared Dijon mustard)

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

7 oz. steamed broccoli spears (optional. If using frozen broccoli, cook according to the directions on the package first)

8 oz. grated cheddar cheese (about 3 c., preferably grated using the finer of the two options on your cheese grater)

1/2 c. flour

1/2-1 c. of any beer you like to drink (I like Newcastle Brown Ale in this)

Directions

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add the onions, garlic, celery and carrot and sauté until the onion and celery is tender but not brown, and the carrot is tender but still a little crisp, about 10 minutes.  Add 5 c. of the chicken broth, the bay leaf (if using) the hot sauce, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and stir.  Cook another 10 minutes at barely a simmer.

Turn off the heat and let the broth rest until it’s cool enough to handle.  Remove the bay leaf and transfer the broth to a blender.  If you’re adding broccoli, add it (drained of any liquid) to the blender now.  Blend until the pieces of onion and vegetables don’t seem to be getting any smaller, about 30 seconds.

Reheat the blended broth in the same large saucepan over medium heat.  In a medium-sized bowl, toss the cheese with the flour.  Add the cheese mixture to the hot broth and stir until the cheese is melted and evenly combined.

Taste the soup.

Add 1/2 c. of the beer, if using, and stir until the bubbles subside.

Taste the soup again.  Add more beer (up to a whole 12 ounces) if want to enhance the flavor the beer added, or add more hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt or pepper.  If the soup is too thick for your taste, add one or more cups of broth and heat until heated through.

Serve in a bread bowl or with bread on the side.

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52 Comments Post a comment
  1. Did you make enough of that soup for me to bathe in? ‘Cuz I might need a cheddar beer soup bath a tiny bit….

    October 10, 2012
    • Brooke, I did. Or at least enough to stick your face in it. We could always dilute it with more beer if we need to increase the volume of the soup. . .

      October 10, 2012
  2. willbakefortattoos #

    After my own heart with Van Morrison. I loved the Rosie clip. Now I must watch that movie. And this soup! I want to be your best friend. 🙂

    October 10, 2012
    • Done and done. If we’re best friends, that means we can get matching overalls, right? We should start thinking about what patches we want to iron on them. . .

      October 10, 2012
  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I LOVE your dog.

    October 10, 2012
    • I hear you. Honestly, I love her so much that it worries me.

      October 10, 2012
      • J-Bo #

        You don’t have to tell me that love for animals and worry go hand in hand…

        October 10, 2012
  4. Yummers – this is certainly the time of the year for soups, stews and chili! I need to watch that movie again. Have a Great One:)

    October 10, 2012
    • Soups and stews indeed! I busted out the slow cooker last week, for the first time ever– for a beef stew. It was just as easy as I’ve been led to believe. I’m a total convert, especially because whenever I make beef stews on the stovetop, the beef gets hard.

      October 10, 2012
  5. texascritter #

    The omelet ingredient list – what comes after onion? I can’t read it and an omelet sounds great right now! I love that he put garlic twice on the list.

    October 10, 2012
    • Ah, after onion it says ricotta, my fiend. I am a sucker for ricotta cheese. I put it on pasta no matter what kind of pasta sauce we’re having. When we order pizza, I put a dollop of ricotta on top when it arrives. Man, I love that stuff. I’m glad you noticed he put garlic on there twice. If he were making the list for himself, he’d probably put it on there SEVEN times. 🙂

      October 10, 2012
  6. I just invoked that monologue the other day, especially the bits about the weave and bush. I will now check your freezer…for human heads.

    Oh and the soup looks good too. A beautiful soup is all powerful.

    October 10, 2012
    • Penny, I just have to point out that if I needed to store any heads anywhere, I could always use the large pockets available in my overalls.

      But eeew. Nevermind.

      October 10, 2012
      • Check Michael Rappaport’s monologue in the movie for the reference and why Rosie made the rebuttal. Also, good job on connecting your post with Beautiful Girls via Van Morrison.

        Re: “why a bread bowl?” – I discovered them via Panera. grab a strong soup spoon and scoop bread up with the soup, and if they give you the “lid” of the bowl, use that. Finish soup, eat half the bowl. It might be one of the perfect foods.

        October 10, 2012
        • You got it! I’m grateful to you for giving me an excuse to watch the whole movie again. I like watching it in winter, anyway, since there’s so much snow in it!

          October 10, 2012
  7. JanS #

    Am I the only one who doesn’t understand the concept of using a bread bowl? Either way, you still have to serve bread on the side, don’t you? Because it strikes me as very difficult to sneak little bites of the bread bowl while it still has soup in it.

    October 10, 2012
    • Hmmm.. I see that. I think the fun part for me is scooping some soup-soaked bread out of the bottom and sides of the bowl along with the soup. If you cut the center out but leave a lot of bread on the sides and then pour the soup in, you can get a bread on your spoon along with the soup. So delicious! So when I do it that way, I don’t serve bread on the side. . .

      October 10, 2012
      • That said, bread bowls are not very cost effective. I found myself with a lot of bread left-over (most of the bowl) that I couldn’t use for something else because it was going to turn soggy after I ate the soup out of it. So yeah, I agree that on an everyday-basis, bread bowls are probably not the way to go–for me, at least!

        October 10, 2012
  8. There has never been a sexier voice than Van’s. Or a sexier soup, great post!

    October 10, 2012
  9. There’s nothing like snuggling up to a nice animal butt. I’m home with the flu and my cats are generously providing theirs.
    Very fun music selections. I have to say that Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl sounded more like a cut from Alvin and the Chipmunk’s Christmas album–not that I’d know anything about that, though.
    I love the Rosie rant. She’s the quintessential girl sidekick (ie. Sleepless in Seattle). A potty-mouthed Rosalind Russell.

    October 11, 2012
    • Ha–I had that Alvin and the Chipmunk’s album when I was growing up. Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked Broken Social Scene. 🙂

      I hope you have recovered from the flu with the aid of those kitties!

      October 15, 2012
  10. Wait. Is the first ingredient on that omelette list… Angela?

    (That soup is freakin’ genius – as most things from the South are.)

    October 11, 2012
    • I probably shouldn’t answer this question on the world wide internets, for fear of prosecution. . .

      October 15, 2012
  11. I don’t know what I enjoy more – your writing or that dog. They both make me smile…

    October 11, 2012
    • Thanks for this kind word. It really means a lot to me.

      October 15, 2012
  12. Amy #

    I’m with you on brothy over creamy soups. I also usually prefer chunky (and brothy) to pureed. I will make an exception occassionally, but it should at least be puree with some chunks. This soup, however, looks like something I could get on board with…I’ve never been one to say no to cheese!

    That little order form Chef Scott made you is seriously adorable. I hope you tipped him 😉

    October 11, 2012
    • Hee hee.

      On the soup issue: there is an awesome Vietnamese place near us that has *fantastic* pho. I could eat my weight in that soup! Brothy, noodly, and leafy. I love it.

      October 15, 2012
  13. at one point in my life, i sat with this movie in my apartment and wrote this monologue down, word for word, in a notebook. Because I is, truly, the best monologue about women not being ridiculous about themselves EVER. still to this day i’ve never seen a better one. This was back when more people used pens and paper, and also when i had time write down and subsequently memorize monologues from movies. i also watch this movie in the winter (i assume probably because it takes place during winter; i’m like that with movies…it needs to be situationally appropriate to my own life)
    i could go on and on about the other similarities in this post, and how i wonder if we perhaps were separated at birth and you’re my twin, but i won’t.
    i have never seen a more delightful cheddar ale soup recipe; most are just devoid of vegetables of any sort and are heavy on the…well, heavy stuff. i like the lift of the veggies in there.

    October 11, 2012
    • i just realized that my comment made it sound like scrawling movie lines, poetry, and random poignant moments down in notebooks is something i did when i was younger and more angsty. LIE: i still do that crap. all the time.

      October 11, 2012
    • Ah Shannon. Perhaps we WERE separated at birth. I used to try to write poetry in the car. I’d be stuck in traffic and I’d write melodramatic lines on the back of the grocery store receipts that were scattered all over the front seat and floor. It was a dark period that would have set poetry back 30 years had they ever been published. Of course, they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to the world outside my car.

      October 15, 2012
  14. Soup with beer and cheese served in a bread bowl is nothing short of genius. All you bread bowl naysayers notwithstanding. And that order form was seriously adorable.

    October 11, 2012
    • Bread bowls are a special kind of awesome, I agree!

      October 15, 2012
  15. Lisa #

    Awesome mug. And, to me, any man who brings you an omelette checklist to peruse whilst you are on the phone is a keeper indeed.

    October 11, 2012
    • Hee hee. That’s kinda what I figured, too!

      October 15, 2012
  16. Perfect for fall now that it’s trying to get cool here. I”m also reading Milan Kundera, but a different book. He writes in an strange way, not like other books I’ve read. That reminds me, I have to finish the Lost Symbol (Dan Brown), I downloaded the audio book to my iPod, lost the iPod, then found it 3 months later by which time I’d forgotten all the 80 chapters I already heard! Need to buy the book instead and start over.

    October 11, 2012
    • You remind me that I need to find a good book on tape (or whatever) for my drive home to Virginia this winter. Last year we alternated driving and reading The Hunger Games trilogy outloud, but the reading out loud got exhausting. I think listening to an audio book might be the way to go this year. . .

      October 15, 2012
  17. Katherine, Milan Kundera is just awesome! Your post reminded me how much I love him. His work, that is, I am kind of partial to my husband =) Anyhow …. and overalls! I had overall envy, remembering mine from YEARS ago — I know, aren’t they the best? Kind of makes you feel like a kid, and what other article of clothing can you fit so many favorite things in?

    October 11, 2012
    • I agree, Christina–overalls are so empowering. It’s neat that we are kindred spirits in our appreciation for Kundera, too!

      October 15, 2012
  18. huh. . .I thought that was my musing

    October 11, 2012
  19. That soup looks delicious — like Welsh rarebit combined with soup. The only thing is, Rosie is wrong — you can naturally have a big ass and small tits — I’m living proof of this and nothing is artificial, enhanced, etc.

    October 11, 2012
  20. this is great. made to order omelets with handwritten menu selection and a han solo mug?? give ’em here.

    October 11, 2012
    • Yeah, I actually love the Han Solo mug– not just because of the picture. You can boil water in the mug in the microwave but still pick the mug up when it’s done. Without burning your hands!

      October 15, 2012
  21. Jean #

    I always look forward to seeing Thunder. He is so precious.

    October 13, 2012
  22. Can I just start off by saying how much I love that mug in that second photo? Ok, now that’s out of the way, I also love the omelet system you guys have worked out! Your never fail to put a smile on my face.

    The quote you mention has also piqued my interest as we read a paper earlier in the semester by Kundera for one of my classes. She’s definitely got some interesting things to say and I might go searching for that book now. The soup, of course, looks wonderful and I will look forward to trying this one as we move into soup season. Thanks for another great post!

    October 20, 2012

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