Smoky Jalapeño Cheddar Potato Soup
After I posted a recent picture of my classic potato and leek soup on Instagram I did a poll on what other type of potato soup you guys wanted on the blog. It was between this smoky cheddar and jalapeño one and a zuppa Toscana. This one won out by a long shot but I will definitely share the zuppa Toscana one of these days too. They are both deliciously rich except one has more greens than the other. This one is the one lacking the greens and is definitely an indulgent one to be had in moderation but thoroughly enjoyed.
Cream soups are my weakness! Cream of broccoli and cream of mushroom are my favorites and come to think of it I have neither of those on the blog. One of these days I will get to those but on my list of favorite soups is a good potato one - from chowders to minestrone the addition of potatoes in soups makes them heartier and filling and are a natural thickener as well. In this soup the potatoes stay chunky and the richness of the soup comes from a roux created by the bacon fat along with the flour which is deglazed by the beer and then the broth. I did warn you it’s indulgent. It doesnt start and stop with the bacon fat - then the potatoes and veggies simmer away with some heavy cream and then comes the cheddar both aged and smoked - loads of it adding extra smokiness to it (the bacon already adds some smokiness to it too).
Jalapeños and cheddar go hand in hand here and in anything else they are in together. I usually will add two jalapeños when I make this recipe - I only have 1 written in the recipe to keep the level of heat to a minimum but I do love a little heat (jalapeños add more flavour than heat to for me so I love adding the extra). I have also made this recipe adding in some canned green chilies as well for even more flavour and are a great substitute for the jalapeños if you can’t get your hands on some.
The extra-sharp Cheddar and lager or Pilsner balance perfectly in this hearty soup. Beer adds a rich, earthy flavor to soups and stews that makes them taste like they’ve been simmering for hours. I just love the undertone of flavour it adds to this soup and strongly recommend adding it. Even a non alcoholic one will do the trick if you wanted to keep the soup booze free. The only thing with using non alcoholic beer to dishes is that you need to chose one that has no overtones of bitterness evident when you drink it. I have read that when applying heat to non-alcoholic beers that have even a slightly bitter taste, this accentuates the bitterness in the finished dish. Just and FYI! This is one cozy soup. It’s rich and indulgent and goes really well with a brewski and definitely with some pretzel buns to dip into it. I hope you enjoy it!
- 6 slices bacon (the smokier the better)
- 2 cups mirepoix (celery, carrots, and onions, all minced)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped (make it 2 if you prefer more heat)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- One 12 oz bottle of lager or Pilsner (non alcoholic if preferred-or sub with more broth)
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 small to medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- ½ lb of sharp old white cheddar cheese, grated coarsely
- 4 oz smoked cheddar cheese grated coarsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over med/high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl. Add the carrots, celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 5-8 minutes. Add ½ of the beer and cook until reduced by half, another couple of minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir for a few minutes to cook off any floury taste. Add the chicken broth just a little bit at a time, stirring as you add until smooth and creamy. The soup should start out very thick and eventually thin out as you add the full 3 cups of broth. Then stir in the remaining beer and the potatoes, and simmer for approx 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth if the soup is too thick. Serve while it’s warm.