Cozy up with a bowl of this beer cheese soup! This Midwest favorite is total comfort food and a fantastic option for game day or chilly winter evenings.
Why you'll crave it
Ok, I have to say the history of beer cheese soup is pretty interesting. It has its roots in Germany, where they made Biersuppe in the medieval days and actually ate a piping hot bowl of it for breakfast on the regular. It was closer to something like eggnog, but it became the inspiration for German immigrants in Wisconsin to combine it with cheese (because it's the dairy state, so obviously) and make the now-iconic beer cheddar soup!
This beer cheese soup recipe is next-level tasty with the addition of crispy bacon. The beer gives this soup its signature malty tang, and the creamy, rich, and cheesy broth has a great seasoning combo, making the whole thing totally irresistible. It's easy to recreate this pub favorite in your own kitchen using everyday ingredients. Beer fans, if you've never tried it, you're in for a treat.
What goes into it
- Bacon - to add a crispy, savory dimension. I like to easily cut it up with kitchen shears.
- Onion, celery, and garlic - our base aromatics to start the soup off right. I prefer sweet (Vidalia) onions.
- Butter and flour - together they form a roux to thicken the broth
- Chicken broth - for more depth of flavor
- Beer - it should go without saying, but if you're not a beer fan, I don't think you'll like this soup recipe. Use one you genuinely enjoy the taste of.
- Heavy cream - for that additional luxurious touch and to mellow out the beer
- Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard - I use both of these very often in my recipes as flavor enhancers. You don't taste them individually, and they add a whole lot of delicious savory goodness.
- Cayenne pepper - it gives a gentle warmth throughout, not enough to make it spicy
- Cheddar cheese - use a good-quality cheese to set the tone of the soup, and grate it from the block yourself. I like this grater. Cabot and Tillamook are both highly regarded brands of cheddar that are hard to go wrong with!
- Scallions - these mild onions add a pop of freshness
What is sharp cheddar?
- It refers to how long it's been aged, usually up to a year, giving it a stronger and more complex flavor than milder, shorter aged cheddar varieties.
- Cheddar is naturally very pale, but it gets that distinct orange hue as a result of being colored with an additive called annatto, from the seeds of a tropical tree. Now you know!
How to make beer cheese soup
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cut up the bacon and fry it in a soup pot until crispy, and then transfer to a paper towel lined plate. In the bacon grease, sauté the onion and celery until softened. Add the garlic and butter.
When the butter melts, stir in the flour. After cooking for a couple of minutes, pour in the chicken broth slowly and stir or whisk it in until the flour dissolves completely.
Add the beer, cream, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, and half of the bacon. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Take it off the heat and gradually stir in the cheddar. Season with salt & pepper if needed, and garnish with the scallions and remaining bacon.
- I highly recommend grating the cheeses yourself vs. buying the bagged kind for recipes such as this one as the soup's texture could be impacted and will not be as silky.
- In choosing a beer for this soup, the important thing is that you like the taste of it, so I recommend using one that you'd actually drink. In general, lagers or pilsners are good beers to use. The more hoppy the beer (like an IPA), the more it may overpower the rest of the ingredients and verge on bitter. You can even use a non-alcoholic beer if needed.
- When adding cheese to soups and sauces, it's important that you take the pot off the heat as it could end up turning grainy or a weird texture if it's too hot.
Substitutions and variations
- You could use beef broth for a more robust flavor, but keep in mind the soup will then be darker in color than it appears in the photos.
- I've seen some recipes use half pepper jack and half cheddar, so that's definitely an option to change things up.
- We don't recommend swapping out the heavy cream for anything lower fat. It won't taste as good or be as rich and could even curdle. As written, it's the right proportions to keep everything in balance and not have the beer take over the soup.
What to serve with this soup
- Have a cold glass of the same beer that went into the soup along with a big slice of Homemade Garlic Bread or even soft pretzels for a cozy meal.
- I love topping it with my fabulous Garlic and Parmesan Croutons made from scratch.
- For a lighter pairing, try this soup with a side salad. I like it with my Creamy Balsamic Dressing or 10 Minute Caesar Dressing.
Leftovers and storage
- Store any leftovers of this soup in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Reheat slowly over low heat in a saucepan for best results. You could also warm it up in short intervals in the microwave. Make sure to stir every so often so it doesn't separate.
- I don't recommend freezing this one. The texture may change as often happens with creamy or cheesy soups.
Have any questions about this easy beer cheese soup, or did you want to leave a review? Talk to me in the comments below! I'm also on Instagram if you'd like to give me a follow.
Ultimate Beer Cheese Soup
- 4 strips bacon cut into small pieces
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 2 sticks celery chopped finely
- 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 2.5 cups chicken broth
- 12 ounces beer see note
- 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cups sharp cheddar grated
- 1/4 cup scallions chopped
- Cut the bacon up (it's easy to do with kitchen shears) and add it to a soup pot. Cook over medium heat until crispy (about 10 minutes). Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate, but leave the fat in the pot.
- Add the onion and celery to the pot and sauté for about 5-7 minutes (until softened and lightly browned).
- Add in the butter and garlic.
- Once the butter melts, stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk in the chicken broth slowly until all the flour dissolves.
- Add in the beer, cream, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, and half the cooked bacon (reserve the rest for topping the bowls).
- Bring the soup to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes (make sure it's getting fairly thick). Give it the occasional stir.
- Take the soup off the heat and then gradually stir in the cheddar. Season with salt & pepper if needed.
- Serve with the rest of the bacon and chopped scallions on top.
- Serves 4-6 depending on portion size.
- My best tip is to use a beer that you like to drink. Pilsners or lagers are good choices for this soup. Anything too hoppy (like an IPA) I would steer clear from unless you really like the flavor - it can overpower the other ingredients. 12 oz = the size of a standard can of beer.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.