Summit Suds: Cozy up with green chile cheddar soup
No matter if you judge the arrival of the season by the breeze in the air, the orange hue of the trees or the date on the calendar, fall is officially here. Something about the season makes me nostalgic and longing for comfort food. One dish in particular, a green chile cheddar soup made with Odell Brewing Co.’s 90 Shilling ale, is a perennial favorite.
As a former Colorado State University Ram, I first had the soup at the restaurant Spoons — Soup, Salads and Sandwiches in Fort Collins. While they have multiple locations across town, I ate their wholesome varieties of their titular food on campus inside the Allison Hall dormitory.
My friends and I would trek across the rec field, hearing the leaves or a blanket of snow crunch underfoot, to warm up with a cup of fresh, hot soup. I remember consistently checking the daily specials and only traveling if I knew the savory blend of chile and cheese would be ladled out.
So when I was gifted Christina Marie’s “Cooking with Beer in Colorado” cookbook years ago, this was one recipe I made before all others. Though it’s her book, the recipe is credited to chef BJ Hocke of Spoons and brewer Jeff Doyle of Odell Brewing Co. In fact, the whole book is nothing but dishes made by Fort Collins chefs and brewers.
Still, I was skeptical of the accuracy, thinking that a secret ingredient or step would be left out to preserve the sanctity of the original dish. But after simmering and trying the final product, my doubts were gone. My homemade version had the same heat — not too spicy but enough to remind you that the chiles are there — and gooey consistency.
This column aims to focus on Summit County breweries, so while 90 Shilling is widely available in liquor and grocery stores, you likely could substitute it with your favorite local amber ale or maybe even a brown ale. My taste buds tell me beers like Dillon Dam Brewery’s Sweet George’s Brown, Angry James Brewing Co.’s Orphan Boy Amber and Breckenridge Brewery’s Avalanche Amber Ale might work.
Green chile cheddar soup with 90 Shilling Ale
Prep time: 30-45 minutes
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili seasoning
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 bottle Odell 90 Shilling ale
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup mild green chiles
- 1/4 cup hot green chiles
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons water
- Salt and pepper
Heat oil in a four-quart pot and sauté onions and celery until onions begin to turn translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add chili seasoning and cumin. Cook for 1 minute. Measure 1/4 cup of beer, pour into pot and scrape the bottom of the pot with wooden spoon. Add vegetable stock and green chiles, bringing the soup to a simmer. Pour in heavy cream. Keeping soup at a very low simmer, slowly add cheddar cheese, stirring the entire time. Add remainder of beer and allow soup to slowly simmer for 5-10 minutes, continuing to periodically stir. Mix together water and cornstarch to form a slurry. Slowly add to soup, stirring constantly to reach desired thickness. Salt and pepper to taste.
Chef’s note: Be sure to keep the soup at a simmer. Boiling will allow the soup to lose liquid, curdle the cheese or possibly burn. Yes, you can burn soup!
Brewer’s pairing: Odell 5 Barrel is my go-to beer. It’s a well-balanced English style pale ale but fits the style with a dry finish, which cuts the richness of a cheddar-based soup.
Recipe reprinted with permission from “Cooking with Beer in Colorado” by Christina Marie. Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Everything Summit. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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