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RECIPE: Grilled Onion And Cheese Beer Soup
By Lucy Saunders

This year for the first time, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade featured craft beer in its educational tastings for retailers and gourmet food buyers. At a seminar sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, we tasted six wonderful Wisconsin brews paired with an assortment of cheeses, from an aromatic aged Cheddar to a perfectly pungent Casaro Pepato — a hard cheese similar to Parmesan but laced with black peppercorns. When I first tasted the peppery flavors of the Casaro Pepato, I decided to add it to this soup with smoky grilled onions for piquant flavors to match a pale ale.

[RECIPE] Grilled Onion and Cheese Beer Soup

2 large Spanish onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 15 slices total)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 quart milk
2 cups packed grated aged Cheddar, at room temperature
1 cup grated Casaro Pepato, or other peppery cheese
12 ounces pale ale, at room temperature
3 tablespoons minced green onions or chives

1. Prepare a grill and cook onions on grill until tender, turning several times to get grill marks on both sides. Set aside to cool.

2. Place olive oil in large heavy soup pot and add flour; whisk until smooth and cook over low heat until mixture is golden and bubbling. Add garlic and bay leaves.

3. Place onions in blender with milk and puree on HIGH until smooth. Pour mixture slowly into soup pot, whisking constantly. Simmer until thickened. Slowly mix in cheeses, one half cup at a time, stirring after each addition until melted. Add pale ale; cook and stir until heated through. DO NOT let boil, or cheese will separate. Remove bay leaves and serve with extra fresh grated pepper. Garnish with minced onion or chives.

Lucy Saunders edits beercook.com and writes often about beer and food.


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