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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.)

We’ve started the Vermont Fresh Network Dining Challenge, and we look forward to trying out more Vermont Fresh Network member restaurants.

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
  1. Saute shallots, peppers, and carrots until soft in 2 T olive oil and 1 T butter.
  2. Add bottle of beer and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Add carmelized onions, potatoes, stock and remaining butter.
  4. Simmer until potatoes are tender, then turn off flame.
  5. Add cream, roasted garlic and cheddar slowly with whisk.
  6. Puree in blender.
  7. Add salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chives and croutons.

Yields 1 gallon.

Enjoy your taste of Vermont!

Update
We have submitted this recipe to La Fète du Fromage, a celebration of cheese at Chez Loulou. We’ll let you know when the cheese festival goes live.

Photo Credit: Pieces of Vermont

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25 comments

1 eileen { 08.28.08 at 7:44 pm }

that sounds delicious. Of course we can’t really get cheddar cheese here, but I will live vicariously through you. If I’m ever presented with the opportunity to try such deliciousness, you can be sure that I will do so, on your recommendation.

btw, I’m not “traveling the countours,” I’m bearshapedsphere. Not urgent, just realized I was misrepresenting myself or something.

2 Shaula { 08.28.08 at 9:29 pm }

Eileen, if you check our blogroll, I’ve corrected your blog name. Your wish is my command! (WordPress has wierd caching issues, so the change might not show up right away, but you will be able to see it eventually.)

I know nothing about the cuisine of Chile. Is there any dairy at all? What sorts of cheeses do you get, if any? I’m sure you could substitute a sharp, hard cheese for the cheddar and wind up with something very good–and this is exactly the sort of stick-to-your ribs cuisine that should warm you up in your antipodean pre-spring weather!

3 justin { 08.28.08 at 9:40 pm }

in a strange coincidence, we wound up eating at Phoebe’s in Montpellior which also is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network on the way to Boston tonight. Really terrific. If you pass there on your way up to mtl, you should definitely stop in.

4 Shaula { 08.28.08 at 9:44 pm }

I wish I’d known you were here: we could have met you for dinner. We’re staying in Montpelier tonight!

Are you in Boston yet?

Hey, sign up for the Dining Challenge and you can win a carrot pin! (And then…we can have matching outfits! yeah!)

5 justin { 08.28.08 at 9:47 pm }

we just got in moments ago. We were in montpelior around 7:30… too bad we missed you! Happy to hear you will be in mtl though!

6 Shaula { 08.28.08 at 9:57 pm }

I hope you remembered to bring your own fleas. ;)

7 Christine Gilbert { 08.30.08 at 9:57 am }

That sounds wonderful. As soon as we get back to Vermont I will have to test that recipe out. For now, I can just dream of cheddar cheese (they don’t have anything in Spain that’s quite like Vermont Cheddar).

8 Shaula { 09.01.08 at 12:02 am }

Christine, the few Spanish cheeses I’ve ever tried have been amazing. I can’t imagine you’re suffering the absence of Vermont Cheddar too, too much!

Which Spanish cheeses have you enjoyed the most?

9 Elizabeth { 09.02.08 at 2:43 pm }

Wow- This looks absolutely amazing! It seems like it would be a delicious winter dish because of its heaviness. Thanks for the recipe- we’ll definitely be making this one.

10 Shaula { 09.03.08 at 11:24 pm }

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you! And it is definitely a stick-to-your-ribs kind of recipe.

11 eileen { 09.10.08 at 10:24 pm }

responding a little late: oh, we have dairy. What we don’t have is alot of sharp flavors. You can make sharply-flavored things, but finding them premade (like cheese) is unlikely. Though you can get blue cheese, but not cheddar, not feta. I’ll make the soup sometime when I have really good cheese on hand. Maybe in NY at Thanksgivingtime!

I’ll mention some chile food things probably in the coming weeks. I talk about it a little in the potato chip post.

Thanks for changing my name, and I really will put up travel and expat blog links soon. I’ve got to clean up my blog first. Looks disorderly!

12 Shaula { 09.12.08 at 2:02 am }

Don’t worry, eileen: we reject the concept of late. :)

Does this mean you have a trip home coming up?

(Every blogger I know is meaning to clean up their blog. It’s like that period in your 20′s / 30′s where every woman you know is “growing out” her hair!)

I loved your potato chip post. I have been trying to think of some of the wierder flavours from when I lived in Japan. I may be a little late (!) but I’ll see what I can think up.

I am very interested to learn about Chilean foods from you. And I really can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog.

13 Janet { 09.14.08 at 10:43 pm }

I’m dying to try this soup, Shaula. For years, our wonderful vacations in New England included the most wonderful cheddar soups, most notably at The Brotherhood of Thieves on Nantucket. I highly recommend this soup for anyone needing interesting comfort food, winter or summer.

14 Nathalie (Spacedlaw) { 09.15.08 at 10:22 am }

This looks wonderful!
I might have difficulties in finding the cheddar in Italy but I shall hunt it down (I do have a few interesting addresses in my sleeve).

15 Shaula { 09.15.08 at 12:50 pm }

Janet, I expect you could make this soup taste even better than the soup from Chef David Smith, the Riverfront Café, or The Brotherhood of Thieves! Maybe we can make it together if the temperatures ever drop around here.

Nathalie, thank you for your comment and for dropping by. How did you find us?

The photos on your blog are absolutely gorgeous. If you have any photo tips for a beginner I’m all ears!

Good luck finding cheddar. I don’t know Italian cheeses well enough to suggest an appropriate substitute (we really need an international cheese guide around here!), but I’d think that any bold, sharp cheese would work well in the soup.

If you do manage to make up a batch on a crispy day, let us know how it turns out. Buon appetito!

16 Jude { 09.15.08 at 10:47 pm }

I’ve tried cheddar and ale soups before and it’s really hard to forget the taste. So delicious and comforting… Thanks for the recipe!

17 Shaula { 09.15.08 at 10:59 pm }

I agree: the taste is distinctive and memorable.

I hope you enjoy the recipe, Jude. I’m sure it will be no challenge for a cook of your talents!

18 Camille { 09.16.08 at 12:46 pm }

Oh, I love beer-cheese soup! Might have to head across the Channel for provisions sometime soon…

19 Shaula { 09.16.08 at 12:47 pm }

Salut, Camille!

Now I have a lovely mental image of you rolling a great big wheel of cheddar cheese through the Chunnel….

20 Nathalie (Spacedlaw) { 09.17.08 at 5:53 am }

Sorry, should have added that: via Loulou’s Fête du Fromage.

21 Nathalie (Spacedlaw) { 09.17.08 at 5:58 am }

I know of some shops in Rome that would have Cheddar but I think it might also be made with a good Castelmagno, which is indeed sharp yet has a very rich – fruity almost – taste (and can be just as tricky to find as it is a cheese from the north of Italy…)

Glad that you like my picture blog. No real tips alas as I am mostly a tinker…

22 Shaula { 09.17.08 at 3:53 pm }

Well, I’m distinctly impressed with your tinkering. :)

23 R. S. Young { 04.18.11 at 5:36 pm }

Hi Shaula,

I found this excellent recipe posted on Godlike Productions, in reference to the Costco Harvest Cheddar Soup recipe we posted on our blog, Costco Quest. I googled the recipe title and your blog came up immediately. What an amazing and interesting life you have. I was totally drawn into your story.

I assume you posted the recipe on GLP? If so, thank you so much for your kind words – and for visiting our blog. At any rate, I’m so glad I found you. I’d like to repost the recipe to our blog and would love to attribute it to the right original poster. We’ll certainly link to your site and spread the word. And I’d love to hear more about the Fresh Network Dining Challenge.

I hope all is well. We’ll be checking back often.

R.S.

24 Liz { 01.05.12 at 8:32 pm }

Thanks for the recipe. I had amazing Cheddar Ale soup today at the Hungry Fish Cafe in Wynantskill NY. I ast down to google recipes. Yours seems most like the one I had today…making this!

25 Jean E. Bell { 02.02.13 at 6:25 pm }

Say, Folks, if you ever get to Bridgewater Vermont try the Long Trail Brewery’s Cheddar Ale Soup. YUM

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7 Trackbacks/Pings

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