Cheddar and Ale Soup with Potato & Bacon

The soup parade continues! I’ve kept up with my New Year’s resolution of making a new pot of soup every week, and up until now they’ve all been fairly healthy varieties – Chicken Noodle Soup, New England Clam Chowder, and Minestrone. So you had to figure that it was only a matter of time before I laid something a little heavier at your feet. For the most part, I have gotten away from eating very heavy or cream-laden soups since much of the beauty I find in eating soup is that it’s a pretty light meal and doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down. That being said, sometimes a bowl of creamy decadence can be just what the doctor ordered, especially during a cold and blustery day in the winter. And this creamy potato cheese soup will certainly fit the bill.

I’ve been wanting to try a creamy potato soup for seemingly ever, and finally went about a search with my first stop being my favorite soup resource, the The Best Soups and Stews, which is written by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. They had a basic cheddar cheese soup in the book, with a couple of different variations – one that included bacon and another that included potato and beer. It’s no secret that I’m a carbaholic (hello, potatoes!), that bacon makes everything better, and that beer in food is usually always awesome, so I went about combining each of the elements I liked from all of the variations into one utterly amazing soup.

This soup is definitely best as soon as you make it, but I feasted on leftovers for a couple of days. Due to the cheese and dairy in the soup it can separate a little and become slightly grainy when you re-heat it, but don’t worry, it still tastes fabulous, it just doesn’t look as pretty.

I love all the flavors going on here and how chunky the soup is. This recipe is definitely going to be stashed away for many chilly days to come!

One year ago: Cream Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños
Two years ago: Quiche Lorraine Scones
Four years ago: Lemon Meringue Pie

Cheddar and Ale Soup with Potato & Bacon

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 medium onion, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 medium carrot, minced
1 small stalk celery, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ cups (one 12-ounce bottle) light-colored ale
1 cup chicken stock
2½ cups half-and-half
1 bay leaf
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dry sherry
12 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


1. Fry the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

2. Add the onion and shallot to the pot containing the bacon drippings and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potato, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring to coat the vegetables, until the mixture begins to brown on the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.

3. Gradually whisk in the ale, chicken stock, and half-and-half. Add the bay leaf and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.

4. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the cayenne and sherry and allow to cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cheese and thyme until the cheese melts. Stir in the fried bacon, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

(Recipe adapted from The Best Soups and Stews)


75 Responses to “Cheddar and Ale Soup with Potato & Bacon”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Melanie on January 26, 2012 at 12:48 am

    This sounds devine!

    Your recipe states it is 4-6 servings. How big are those servings? I ask because, when my man eats soup, he has a special bowl that I always considered a serving dish before I met him. (LOL!) Would it be best, do you think, to just double the recipe?


    • Michelle on January 27th, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Melanie, I would say those are 4 to 6 decent-sized (“meal-sized”) bowls of soup. Not like a cup of soup on the side of a meal. Whether you double it or not depends on how many servings you ultimately want.


  2. Angelyn on January 26, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Wow, this looks delicious! :)


  3. beti on January 26, 2012 at 1:00 am

    cheddar cheese goes perfect with almost any soup, the whole combination is simply perfect


  4. Shelly Donahue on January 26, 2012 at 5:06 am

    This brings back memories of a soup I had last winter on a trip with my husband. I’ll have to make it tonight! Thanks for posting this recipe.


  5. Kiri W. on January 26, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Oh wow, this sounds to die for :) love how creamy your soup looks! Ale makes cheddar better. It just does. I would love a bowl of this!


  6. Arlene on January 26, 2012 at 7:20 am

    What could I substitute for the ale? My husband can not have alcohol and this soup looks wonderful!


    • Michelle on January 27th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Hi Arlene, You can substitute an equal amount of chicken stock for the ale.


  7. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on January 26, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Ohhh, this looks good! I love all these soups your posting! I plan on making your minestrone soup this weekend!!


  8. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables on January 26, 2012 at 8:23 am

    This looks so delicious and comforting right now, I want it ASAP!


  9. Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) on January 26, 2012 at 8:38 am

    My husband and I had soup like this on our honeymoon in Disney. And it always reminds me of the fun time we had and all the delicious foods we tried. I’m so excited to see this recipe!


  10. Andi on January 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

    This sounds great! As a Pittsburgh foodie… can’t you please find a recipe for Eat-n-Park’s potato soup!!!


  11. Tabitha (From Single to Married) on January 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

    mmmm… the perfect winter dish!


  12. leslie on January 26, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Beer and Cheese in a Soup! My hero!


  13. Eileen on January 26, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I like having soup as a meal. Pair it with a salad or a hearty piece of bread and it’s a match made in heaven. This soup sounds delicious. I would imagine the ale gives it a flavor all it’s own. Thanks for sharing!


  14. Erin on January 26, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I just love any soup with cheese, potato and bacon, Yum!


  15. jeralyn on January 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

    What is ale exactly? Can you find it in a grocery store?


    • Michelle on January 27th, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      Hi Jeralyn, Ale is beer. Whether or not you can find it in a grocery store depends on your state liquor laws. Some states do not permit the sale of alcohol in grocery stores and you would need to visit a beer distributor, while other states have special sections of the store in which they carry alcohol.


  16. Katrina on January 26, 2012 at 11:18 am

    HELLO lovely! Awesome!


  17. Mary Lynn on January 26, 2012 at 11:37 am

    The perfect soup on this rainy Pittsburgh day.


  18. Kelsey on January 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I clipped a similar recipe from the Tampa Tribune a long time ago, and I have no idea where it went. This will work!


  19. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on January 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    This is my kinda soup!!!!! :)


  20. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on January 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    This looks stunning! One of my husbands favorite soups. I am going to have to make this for him soon!


  21. Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids on January 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This soup looks absolutely perfect. I am pinning it right now so that I will not forget to try it. I need this soup on my menu next month, and I cannot wait to try it.


  22. manga mboa on January 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Just discovered your blog and i am really impress by your skills; As a new member i will definitively follow you to learn to make good and elaborate receipe; you are my new inspiration; Keep up a good work;


  23. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on January 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Yum! This soup looks warm and comforting… I could certainly use a nice warm bowl on this chilly and dreary day!


  24. Cornelius the Pig on January 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Minus the bacon – this looks like a fantastic idea!


  25. Lisa @ Tequilacupcakes on January 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    This sounds wonderful for a cold, winter day! Thinking this would be an awesome crowd pleaser for Superbowl Sunday!


  26. Jen at The Three Little Piglets on January 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Beer and white cheddar really do the trick in a potato soup! Love it!


  27. Maria on January 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Perfect meal for a chilly night!


  28. raquel on January 27, 2012 at 12:06 am

    this is creamy and it looks delicious, I would love to make this for dinner.


  29. CouponClippingCook on January 27, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Comfort food for sure. The consistency of your soup looks just perfect. Sounds and looks delicious.


  30. Jess on January 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

    @jeralyn: Ale = beer! You can’t get it at grocery stores in MA, where I am, but some other states do have combined stores.

    If we’re getting all specific, ale is different from lager, so check the label – but know that both ales and lagers can be light or dark, delicious or not so much.


  31. Becky on January 27, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I’m curious too if there’s something you could use in place of the Ale to get a similar flavor or would it be best to omit that all together? Thanks!!


    • Michelle on January 27th, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      Hi Becky, You can substitute the same amount of chicken stock for the ale. Enjoy the soup!


  32. Patty on January 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    This looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it – especially when it’s cold outside!


  33. Soni on January 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Beautiful and delicious!Love the consistency and flavors in there!


  34. Suzi on January 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Wonderful soup, I am trying to cut out the dairy but I would still go for a nice bowl of this. Sounds divine.


  35. Tracy on January 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    This soup looks fabulous! Hearty and comforting for the winter!


  36. Janet@FCTC on January 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Looks delicious! I’ve made cheese soup many times but have never gone the ale route with it. I need to give this a try. :-)


  37. Anita at Hungry Couple on January 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Yummy! I love soups, I love creamy soups, I love potato soups. I want a big bowl of this soup right now!!!


  38. Mary Kay @ Just for Cooking on January 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I could eat this right now! Yum!


  39. Anna on January 28, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Totally bursting with flavors…Yum! Is there anything that I can use instead of dry sherry? Thanks!


    • Michelle on January 28th, 2012 at 11:32 am

      Hi Anna, I would probably just sub more chicken stock.


  40. Debs @ The Spanish Wok on January 28, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Cheddar & Ale, what more is needed? Simply delicious.


  41. Ann on January 28, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    This soup is so beautiful and SMOOTH! Delish!


  42. Kevin (Closet Cooking) on January 29, 2012 at 7:44 am

    This soup sounds amazing! You cannot go wrong with beer and cheese!


  43. Maggie @ kitchie coo on January 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Oh yes! Beer and cheese all togeher in a soup? I’m in. I don’t eat bacon (I know, right?) but I think I could still make this fab without. Great recipe!


  44. Chandra@the plaid and paisley kitchen on January 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    OMG! I am sooooo Making this very very very soon! Amazing!


  45. Lindsay on January 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I made this this weekend and it was absolutely delicious! I used RF cheese and FF half and half, but otherwise I made it the same, you couldn’t even tell I swapped out lower fat ingredients. Even splitting it into 6 portions it was a generous size. Definitely will be making this again!


  46. bridget {bake at 350} on January 30, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Bacon, beer, cheese?!? Um, that is my kind of soup!!!


  47. Samantha on January 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    This soup seriously looks and sounds amazing. My husband always says that soup isn’t a meal but when I tell him what is in this soup, he will change his mind! I just know it. I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and get to cooking! Thanks for the beautiful post. :)


  48. April on January 31, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Yum, this sounds amazing. What could be better then beer, bacon, cheese and potatoes? Not much-thanks for sharing!


  49. RisaG on January 31, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Boy that looks incredible. So warming and comforting. I could go for a bowl right now. Thanks for this yummy soup. Can’t wait to try it.


  50. Lindsey@Lindselicious on February 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Oh this looks good!! The cheese and potato/bacon sound amazing!


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