Rich, hot beer-cheese soup may not sound like ideal summer fare, but this version is made with a warm-weather cookout star—smoky grilled brats—that transform it into a dish that's seasonally appropriate. Flavored with cheddar and spiked with a bit of Velveeta for improved texture, it's my go-to meal when I want a taste of my Midwestern roots.
Why this recipe works:
- Rich and hearty, this soup is thickened with a little flour and the starch from diced potatoes.
- An ultra-creamy mixture of cheddar and Velvetta cheeses cuts down on the amount of heavy cream.
- Grilled brats and nubs of bacon lend smokiness to this full-flavored meal.
Note:The soup can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. The flavors will deepen. Just reheat it on the stovetop.
- 4 bratwurst, preferably cheddar brats
- 12 ounces light-bodied beer, such as pale ale
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 2 strips bacon, chopped
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium red-skin potatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup drained and finely chopped jarred roasted red peppers
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- 2 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups milk, divided
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces Velveeta, cubed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
Arrange bratwurst in a 10-inch square disposable aluminum pan and pour in beer. Place tray on hot side of grill and cook until simmering, about 4 minutes. Slide to cooler side of grill. Cover grill with vents over the bratwurst. Cook with all vents open until sausages register 140 to 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 20 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.
Remove grill lid. Using tongs, remove bratwurst and place directly on cooking grates over hot side of grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until well browned and crisp, about 3 minutes total. Remove brats and beer pan from the grill. Chop brats into small pieces. Return meat to beer and reserve.
In a large stockpot, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bacon and continue to cook until browned. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
Stir in potatoes, roasted peppers, cayenne, dry mustard, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Raise heat to medium-high. Add reserved brat and beer mixture, along with chicken stock, heavy cream, and 1 cup of milk. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 cup of milk with flour, making sure there are no lumps. Add to soup and bring to a boil.
Add cheeses, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is thickened and potatoes are pierced easily with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.
Grill, disposable aluminum pan