If you make this soup in advance, reheat it in a double boiler over simmering water so that the cheese doesn’t separate from the soup, giving it a curdled appearance. Try other cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, or even goat cheese. Popcorn is a traditional garnish for this soup — here, we’ve dusted it with chili powder for extra flavor.
Makes 6 servings
½ cup butter
2½ cups finely diced leek (white and light green parts)
1¼ cups minced onion
½ cup minced celery
¼ cup flour
2 tsp dry mustard
1 cup local ale
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt to taste
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
¼ cup finely diced canned green chiles
2 Tbsp minced cilantro or parsley
2 Tbsp finely diced pickled jalapeños (optional)
Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, onion, and celery. Stir to coat evenly with butter. Cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are tender, four to five minutes.
Add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon. Cook for four to five minutes, stirring almost constantly. Add the dry mustard and ale, stirring to make a thick paste. Add the broth gradually, using a whisk to work out any lumps between each addition.
Bring the soup to a simmer and continue to simmer gently for one hour. Stir the soup occasionally and skim the surface as necessary.
Strain the soup through a sieve, reserving the liquid. Puree the solids and return to the soup pot. Add enough of the reserved liquid to achieve a soup consistency and strain once more.
Return the soup to a simmer. Whisk in the cheese and simmer until the cheese melts, about one minute. Season to taste with Tabasco sauce, salt, and white pepper. Serve in heated bowls, garnished with the chiles, cilantro, and jalapeños (if using).
The following recipe is adapted from the Culinary Institute of America’s The New Book of Soups (Lebhar-Friedman, 2009).