Vermont Cheddar Ale Soup (with recipe!)
When Neil tried a bowl of Vermont cheddar ale soup at Brattleboro’s Riverview Café earlier this week, we were both impressed with how the bitterness of the ale anchored the sweet creaminess of the cheddar. The soup was more substantial, more complex and more interesting than we anticipated. A delicious surprise!
It has been a pleasure to see how vigorously Brattleboro businesses promote and support local Vermont products. Menus boast of dishes made with Vermont Cheddar, Vermont cream, Vermont microbrew ales, and of course, Vermont maple syrup.
Locavore / Green Traveler Alert! The Riverview Café is a member of The Vermont Fresh Network, an organization dedicated to supporting Vermont farmers by connecting them with local chefs. What a brilliant initiative on so many levels: strengthening agriculture, improving the quality of local restaurants, showcasing state produce to locals and tourists, reducing the environmental impact of food distribution, encouraging local eating, and improving public health through the consumption of quality local foods.
(I would LOVE to see a program like this set up in the Okanagan Valley where I grew up, and I could see something like this really take off in the Vancouver / Lower Mainland area, too.)
This recipe for Cheddar Ale Soup, by Chef David Smith of The Old Tavern at Grafton, Vermont, showcases Grafton Cheddar and McNeill’s Firehouse Ale. If you don’t have either on hand, substitute a full-flavoured cheddar aged at least one year and an amber beer.
Vermont Cheddar Ale Soup
- 1 garlic bulb, roasted
- 1 sweet onion, chopped & carmelized
- 1 red pepper, diced 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced 1/4 inch pieces
- 2 shallots thinly chopped
- 2 qt vegetable stock
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 2 pounds Grafton Cheddar, shredded
- 22 oz McNeill’s Firehouse Ale
- 3 large Yukon gold potatoes, diced 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/4 pound unsalted butter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Saute shallots, peppers, and carrots until soft in 2 T olive oil and 1 T butter.
- Add bottle of beer and simmer 5 minutes.
- Add carmelized onions, potatoes, stock and remaining butter.
- Simmer until potatoes are tender, then turn off flame.
- Add cream, roasted garlic and cheddar slowly with whisk.
- Puree in blender.
- Add salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chives and croutons.
Yields 1 gallon.
Enjoy your taste of Vermont!
Photo Credit: Pieces of Vermont