We’ve Caught You Munching on Pretzels

I absolutely love the latest of the food trends – upscaled comfort food. In a way this is a return to the way food should be. Filling. Delicious. Simple. Rustic. And filled with friends, family, and a good laugh. You know the kind of belly laugh that makes your stomach ache and your cheeks feel like they are going to fall off. Maybe this mindset is just my Northern Michigander coming out. Regardless, I believe that food should take time to cook and time to eat.

During my time in Peru, family lunches included numerous courses spread out over several hours and several conversations. Mealtimes were not so much a means of consumption but rather they were a means for taking the time to slow down and enjoy the simple flavors that life offers. Alec and I are definitely guilty of eating our food on the go, or not even eating at all. Last night, for example we had ice cream and beer for dinner. No regrets, but gosh darn it sometimes you just need to plop your butt down in the kitchen and have a two hour long dinner!

Without further ado, we have Beer Cheese Soup for You:

2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
One 12-ounce bottle lager – Shorts Brewery- Local’s Light
About 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
8 Ounces sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
4 Ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bacon – optional – Cooked and Crumbled into the soup
Honey Mustard – Onion Pretzels

Using the leftover bacon grease to cook the veggies, add the celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk this roux into the broth and veggie mixture until mixed and bring to a simmer. Cook this down until thickened, about 7 minutes. Add the heavy cream, both cheddar cheeses and the remaining half of the beer and simmer. Stir frequently until thick and creamy. If you choose to add bacon – Do it now. Add a few tablespoons of broth if the soup seems too thick. Serve with those pretzels you have been snacking on it for the past hour. You know it. I know it. Just admit it. It’s the first step.

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