If you were uncertain that fall has arrived, it definitely has up here in Minnesota! Saturday morning we woke up to frost and today has just been pretty dreary and rainy. We definitely needed something hearty, warming and comforting to fill us up tonight!
Soup was definitely in order... but I needed to find a recipe that had some weight to it - after flipping through some of our options, we both decided this Brat, Beer and Cheese Soup fit the bill, especially since I didn't need to buy anything extra!
Inside of our big Dutch oven, sliced carrots, chopped celery and onion bounce around in olive oil until they were quite tender. A couple cloves of minced garlic were tossed in, and as soon as it's aroma was present, all-purpose flour is sprinkled over the vegetable mixture and allowed to cook out for just a minute to remove it's raw taste. A pound of cubed russet potatoes were added, followed by a combination of chicken broth and a bottle of beer (preference is up to you - whichever favorite kind that you think would add a pleasant depth should do well). After the potatoes were given a chance to become tender, yet still retain some texture, the soup is seasoned with a bit of chipotle pepper for a smoky heat, along with mustard powder for an intriguing background.
For a creamy edge with a bite, milk and just a touch of Worcestershire sauce is stirred it - if you are feeling a little decadent, swirl in some half-and-half instead of the milk... that was my plan at least, until the container I pulled out of the refrigerator was empty (! - and it wasn't me who put an empty container back). A few generous handfuls of cheddar cheese are slowly stirred in, off heat, to melt into the soup for a sharp contrast. A couple cups worth of the vegetables are then removed from the soup and pureed to give the soup a voluptuous body. If you wanted a soup that was more thin, skip this part, but we both agreed that the added texture was worth that step. Cooked and sliced links of bratwurst sausage were added to the soup, along with the puree, and the pot was placed back over the heat long enough to warm everything through.
The beer brought a subtle, but noticeable, background tang to the soup that caught our attention - the soup also definitely benefited from that thicker body with those pureed vegetables. It helped to suspend those remaining chunky pieces so they didn't fall right to the bottom. In this homey and very comforting soup, if the brats don't get you excited, how about using kielbasa or going the more smoky route by crisping up a few slices of bacon to add on top first, then using their drippings to soften the vegetables?
Brat, Beer and Cheese Soup