Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Beer Soup

Beer Soup is a classic example of using up things in the refrigerator. I had every single thing, down to the beer (a bottle of Dos Equies left over from the summer). I had a mason jar of chicken broth from the freezer that I really don't remember making, but there is still quite a bit in there. So dinner on Monday was beer soup and latkes, with a tip of the hat to Hanukkah.
This soup hails from the great (kind of) state of Wisconsin, and I suspect it is of Bohemian or Czech origin. In a hilarious Arts Beat post for the New York Times web edition of February 29, 2008, Jennifer Schuessler uncovered the origins of beer soup as a German breakfast drink. She quotes another author who speculates that coffee actually woke up Western Europe and gave it the kick in the pants necessary to start the industrial revolution. Before coffee, everyone had a beer buzz on at 9 am.
This soup is a little different than the beer soup of the 17th Century and has less beer.  It is easy to make and the beer gives it a minor sparkle. It is not gluten free because I did not use gluten free beer. I did use Bob's Red Mill Gluten free flour for the tablespoon of flour. In fact, the hardest thing about this soup is the hardest thing about any soup I make in the blender, viz, how to get the soup off the wall after I filled the blender too full. Carbon 14 dating of our kitchen wall would prove to be an interesting anthropological study on soups of the 20th Century.
This has to cook an hour and then be run through the blender, so it would probably not be most people's first choice for an after work dinner. But, you could easily make it on the weekend and eat it during the week.

Beer Soup

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion ( I used half an onion.)
4 cups finely shreeded green cabbage
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups strong ale
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup hot milk
chunks of dark rye bread

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan and add the onion and cabbage. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion and cabbage becone translucent looking.
2. Sprinkle with the flour, stir and cook one minute. stir in the broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer one hour.
3. Puree the mixture in an electric blender or rub through a sieve. Return to the pan. Add the hot milk and heat. Serve with the bread. Serves four.

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