Wednesday, December 23, 2009

As Irish As You Can Get: Potato Guiness Soup with Dubliner Cheddar

For those chilly days and nights there's nothing better than a nice, thick, filling soup or stew. Unfortunately, many of these winter stews involve red meat and aren't quite worth the calories they're cooked in, at least as far as I'm concerned. But this dish is a keeper -- it's simple, filling and rich with a deep savory flavor. Although the alcohol evaporates away during cooking this is a dish for adult tastes (although there's nothing wrong with giving some to the tykes in your household). So send the kids to bed, throw this soup together and curl up near the fire with any leftover Guiness.

You will need:

12 oz Guiness beer
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3/4 lb Dubliner cheddar
2 tbsp flour
6 tbsp butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
salt to taste

Boil the potatoes until a fork goes into them with no problem, usually between twenty and forty minutes. Mash the potatoes in the pot with a masher or in a separate bowl using a mixer; you don't want all the lumps gone, but you want to make a major dent in it. Return pot and potatoes to medium heat and add the Guiness; whisk together until even, expect to whisk through a bit of foam for several minutes. In the meantime, in a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat then add the onions. Cook them down as you cook down the potato mixture, probably about 10 minutes or until the butter turns a deeper golden and the onions are fully cooked. Add the onions and as much of the melted butter as you can get to the potatoes. Whisk in the flour. By this point the soup should be getting gradually smoother, and you can add the cheddar chopped into small cubes. Whisk constantly until all of it is melted and incorporated into the soup, probably five to ten minutes. After this, allow the soup to boil down a bit more and thicken up -- another five to ten minutes. Lastly, taste a very small spoonful to make sure it's salted to your taste, chances are you will have to add 2-3 tsp to the whole pot to get it where it needs to be. Serve hot, ideally with some bread for dipping.

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