Confessions of a Culinary Cheater: Bacon Broccoli Stout Cheese Soup

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Nerdship, I have a confession. I’m a cheater. A dirty, dirty cheater. I don’t mean cheating at cards or video games (well, except for liberal use of the Konami code back in the old Contra for NES days). I mean cheating at cooking. My wife is a “from scratch” kind of person. I mean, she makes her own alfredo sauce for Bob’s sake. Jar of sauce? Nope, just throw it back in the pantry. Not good enough. I don’t say this as a criticism, since she’s a really good cook. I just want you to know where she stands on the cooking spectrum so you can better understand where I, with my cheating heart, stand. I’m a decent cook. I can follow a recipe and even improve one (though I usually do follow it to the letter the first time I cook a new recipe), but when it comes time to make up a dish on my own, I choke. So what’s a guy to do? Cheat, I say. Cheat your frelling heart out. Just make sure the dish you serve is worth it.

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With that exhortation in mind, I’m going to turn to the actual subject of this post. Cheese soup. It’s fall. The weather (somewhere other than here) is getting cooler, so thick and hearty soups are starting to come back into vogue. A good broccoli cheese soup (or Wisconsin cheese soup that dispenses with the broccoli entirely) is just the thing to take away the chill, while sticking to your ribs so you don’t find yourself starving again 30 minutes after eating. But it’s also football season. And you know what that means. Beer. Foamy, foamy, delicious beer. Sure, you can pair a beer with your bowl of cheese soup, but why stop there? Why not put the beer into the soup? And while we’re at it, why not put bacon in the soup? Almost everyone loves bacon! Well, except for those who don’t, but we won’t go into that. Plus, it’s Beer and Bacon week! It’s perfect! Perfect, I say! Muahahahahahahahahaha!

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Ahem. Sorry about that. I’m back now. So. The soup. For the novice cook, a cheese soup is just about one of the most difficult things to pull off. Cheese gets all grainy and doesn’t melt properly, gets stuck to the bottom of the pot and can cause that dreaded “burny” taste. It’s no fun. Trust me. So I cheat. My shortcut of choice? Sauce starters. Progresso makes a cheese sauce starter that makes a perfect base for a cheese soup. When you first look at it, it may seem a little thin, but we’ll fix that up.

Bacon Broccoli Stout Cheese Soup

Don't doubt. Just eat.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 18 oz cans of Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Three Cheese Cooking Sauce
  • 1 12 oz bottle of stout beer. I used Left Hand Milk Stout, but Guinness is also a good choice. Just don’t get the bottle with the rocket widget.
  • 4 oz of finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz frozen cut broccoli (about half a bag)
  • ½ of a large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp of chopped green onion
  • ½ cup of chopped carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt (Kosher if you have it, but plain old iodized will do just fine)
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 4 tbsp starch

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In a medium saucepan or dutch oven (I used the latter. I think it’s a 3.5 quart, but I can’t find the box to say for sure), melt your butter over medium heat. Add your onions, carrots and ¼ cup of green onions and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent. Add your garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

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Add your cheese sauce and beer. Stir the beer in slowly, as it will foam up if you do a hard pour and can splash everywhere. Once the beer has been incorporated, slowly stir in your shredded cheese a little at a time, giving each bit time to melt and mix. Then add your spices and brown sugar. You’ll probably want to use a whisk for the spices to eliminate any possible clumps. Lastly, stir in the broccoli and bacon, but reserve a few bits for garnish in a separate dish, along with that 2 tbsp of green onion you still have left.

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Still pretty thin, right? Relax, I told you we’d take care of that. Take your 4 tbsp of starch and place it into a small bowl, then ladle a small amount of your soup into it. Whisk until smooth. You may need to add a bit of soup as you’re mixing if you notice it clump up. Once you’ve finished mixing, pour the contents of the bowl back into your soup pot and stir.

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Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat down and let it simmer with the lid on for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. I can’t stress this enough. Cheese will burn on the bottom of the pot if you have the heat too high, and thicker soups don’t do a rolling boil like a broth based soup, so stirring is vital to ensure you’re distributing the heat evenly throughout the soup.

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Ladle into bowls (or these awesome bread bowls), garnish with bacon and green onion and dig in!

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And there you have it. A warm delicious cheesy bacony soup that didn’t take 3 hours to cook. One note on the beer choice. Stouts are bitter. That bitter taste can dominate the soup, which is why I chose to add the brown sugar. The sweetness cancels out the bitter aftertaste. If you prefer, you can substitute an ale or a light lager in place of the stout. You may still need to add sugar, but you probably won’t need as much.

If you like this recipe, be sure to let us know either in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter. Feel free to share your recreations of this recipe with us on any of the socials with the hashtag #beerandbaconweek or #nerdsandnomsense.

Happy (ch)eating!

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Bacon Broccoli Stout Cheese Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 18 oz cans of Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Three Cheese Cooking Sauce
  • 1 12 oz bottle of stout beer.
  • 4 oz of finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz frozen cut broccoli
  • ½ of a large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp of chopped green onion
  • ½ cup of chopped carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt (Kosher if you have it, but plain old iodized will do just fine)
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 4 tbsp starch
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and ¼ cup of green onions and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add cheese sauce and beer. Stir the beer in slowly, as it will foam up if you do a hard pour and can splash everywhere. Once the beer has been incorporated, slowly stir in shredded cheese a little at a time, giving each bit time to melt and mix. Then add spices and brown sugar. Use a whisk for the spices to eliminate any possible clumps. Lastly, stir in the broccoli and bacon, but reserve a few bits for garnish in a separate dish, along with that 2 tbsp of green onion you still have left.
  3. Take 4 tbsp of starch and place it into a small bowl, then ladle a small amount of soup into it. Whisk until smooth. You may need to add a bit of soup as you’re mixing if you notice it clump up. Once you’ve finished mixing, pour the contents of the bowl back into your soup pot and stir.
  4. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat down and let it simmer with the lid on for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Ladle into bowls, garnish with bacon and green onion and serve.
 

 

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