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“Comfort food in a bowl”….“nectar of the gods”….“my go-to all year long”…this is how appreciative patrons describe the Cheddar Ale Soup from Free State Brewing Company.
“I love it!” says Sue Nutt of Lawrence. “It’s so warm and creamy with just a little bite of onion here and there. I get it when I am working at the (Diane’s Artisan) Gallery. Delicious!”
The restaurant and brewery opened in 1989 at 633 Mass. as the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years, and has been serving throngs of locals and out-of-town visitors ever since.
“Cheddar Ale Soup was on the original menu 21 years ago,” says executive chef Rick Martin. “The recipe was originally designed by Brad Taylor and Linda Mathias. It has changed over the years, but the flavor is still the same.”
Martin says the brewery makes 25 to 40 gallons of the beer- and cheese-based soup per week.
“It’s the most popular (dish), for sure,” he says. “When people talk Free State Brewery, they immediately mention Cheddar Ale Soup. This doesn’t mean it’s our best-selling item, but most talked about, for sure.”
The recipe is as follows:
Free State Brewing Company Cheddar Ale Soup
3 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1/4 cup small diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup small diced green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Free State Ad Astra ale
3 ounces cream cheese
3 cups cream
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Fresh parsley and thyme to taste
6 ounces grated Alma white or yellow cheddar cheese
In 1 tablespoon butter, cook onion, peppers and garlic until onion is transparent. Add remaining butter and flour, stir well and cook mixture on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add beer in small increments, mixing smooth after each addition. Cut cream cheese into smaller chunks and add to mixture. Mash and stir cream cheese until it is completely melted into mixture. Gradually add cream to mixture, mixing smooth after each addition. You may want to use a whisk at this point. Add seasonings, stir and heat to 160 degrees, being careful not to heat beyond this temperature. Add cheese in three increments stirring smooth with a whisk after each addition. If cheese is not melting after 30 seconds, check temperature and add heat if necessary. If soup is thin, add more cheese. If soup is thick, add milk. Serves 6-8.