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The Berghoff Café Cookbook
by Carlyn Berghoff & Nancy Ross Ryan

Beer-cheese soup is traditionally very German but also popular in the Midwest, where fall and winter weather makes it a welcome bowl of warmth. You can use any Berghoff beer with this, but my favorite is Berghoff Original Amber. The only tricks to making this recipe are using freshly grated cheese (packaged pregrated cheese from the supermarket doesn't melt well) and not letting the soup boil during or after adding the cheese. I like to serve it with a plain or caraway pretzel, or with freshly popped popcorn. Put the bowl of popcorn on the table and let everyone add it to the soup as they eat.
Makes eight 1-cup servings


• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
• 1½ cups finely chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only (about 2 medium-size) (see Note below)
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 cups whole milk, at room temperature
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 1 (12-ounce) bottle Berghoff amber beer
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon mustard powder
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cups freshly shredded mild Cheddar cheese
• 2 cups freshly shredded Swiss cheese
• Fresh Baked Pretzels or freshly popped popcorn, for serving


Heat the butter in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and bay leaf, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender, about 6 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low, sprinkle the flour over the leek mixture, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Slowly whisk in the milk, 1 cup at a time, and cook, whisking, until smooth and fully thickened. (This takes some time, so don't try to rush this step.) Slowly add the broth and beer, whisking constantly until fully incorporated. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally from the bottom to prevent sticking and burning. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the Worcestershire, mustard, salt, and pepper.

Add the cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat without boiling until the cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve. Stir well before serving with fresh pretzels or a big bowl of fresh popcorn.

The soup may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave on medium power or on the stovetop, in a hot-water bath, until hot.

Instead of grating cheese at home, have the deli slice the cheese thinly. Then add to the soup slice by slice.
Use half sharp and half mild Cheddar.
Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

NOTE: Leeks are available in the produce section already cleaned and ready to use If you buy whole leeks, cut off the root end and discard. Then cut off the upper dark green parts and save for soup stock Use only the white and pale green parts of the leeks Cut the leeks horizontally into 2-inch lengths. Separate the ribs and soak and swish in a bowl of cold water or rinse under cold running water to remove the sand or grit.


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