Beer Cheese Soup

ST. Francis Brewery & Restaurant

Makes 12-14 cups

3/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
3/4 cup finely diced Canadian bacon or smoked ham
3 3/4 cups St. Francis Brewery Kolsch beer
4 3/4 cups chicken broth or stock (homemade or purchased)
pinch of white pepper
3/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups flour
2 pounds Colby or Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes
3 cups heavy whipping cream
pretzels, popcorn or shredded cheese for garnish

In a 5 quart pot, combine all ingredients except butter, flour, cheese, cream and garnishes. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, place butter in a 1 quart saucepan and melt over low heat, but do not let it brown. When melted, gradually whisk in flour to make a roux and cook 3 to 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, and being careful not to let mixture brown.

When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and gradually add the roux and whisk until smooth. Gradually add cheese and whisk until smooth. When all the cheese is added and melted, add cream and whisk until combined and heated through. Serve in bowls topped with a pretzel, popcorn or shredded cheese.