Monday, January 28, 2019


It’s the last weekend of December as I write this and it is bloody cold outside. In fact, it’s 53°, drizzly and blowing. Checking last years’ records, on this same day it was 88°. So much for global warming.

Back in my flying days, we had a Gulfstream trip in which we flew 8 bankers to Dublin, Ireland. This afforded the crew a four day layover at The Conrad on St. Stephen’s Green, before the return flight back to the US. After a night of “discovery” in Dublin, I just had to get out of the city. So the next day, I walked to Houston Station and took a train to the 10th Century city of Kilkenny; two hours away. It boasts a medieval castle, a 1000 year old town of cobble stone streets, secret passageways and narrow Norman alleyways and The Round Tower which dates back to the 6th Century. Truly a mystical experience.

I happened into a 16th Century tavern, The Hole in the Wall, for a bite to eat. On the menu was Irish Beer Cheese which I found delicious. I spoke to the innkeeper and happen to get the recipe for this warm and inviting soup.

Back to the present; I have yacht owners in town. It is kind of a bummer because there is a steel-wind blowing and seas to 15 feet out in “the stream.” It was my memory of KilKenny and the recipe I acquired that brought a little warmth and delight into their weekend. This recipe is super easy to make and I can confirm; Yacht Owner Approved.
4 tbsp. butter (1/2 stick)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. course black pepper
1/2 c. flour
1 (12 ounce) bottle Irish Ale
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
5 c. chicken stock
2 c. (1 lb. package) mild shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. processed cheese
2/3 c. sour cream

In a Dutch oven (I like cast iron) over medium heat, melt the butter. Add garlic, onion, chili and black pepper, Sauté for 6-8 minutes until onion is translucent. Sprinkle flour over onion/garlic and stir for 3 minutes (this is the roux). Stir in a good lager (I use O’Hara’s Irish Red but Harpe will do) and chicken stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and remove from heat.

Next, with a ladle, add mixture to a food processor or blender (may have to do it in batches) and puree until smooth. Pour soup back into the Dutch oven, over low heat add sour cream and the cheeses; stir until the cheeses melts. Serve in sourdough bread bowls (available at Panera). Garnish with chopped scallions and bacon. Enjoy, JW

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