Potato and Lager Soup
“Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.” – Henry Lawson
Spring is here and many of us are preparing to feast on the bounty that California agriculture has to offer. People are ready for the long summer nights full of barbeques and garden parties. But before all that kicks off, there’s one more big Spring Holiday on a lot of people’s minds which requires a hearty wintery meal: Easter.
There’s a lot of jubilatory decadence going on this time of year, but if you’re like me then you don’t want to be wasteful. This recipe makes use of the ham bone that might be left over from your upcoming family supper. Trust me: you don’t want to throw that thing away. It’s full of flavor and there happens to be a surprising amount of meat left on it that you couldn’t quite carve off, especially with the weight of those hungry family eyes staring at you in expectation.
The big reason I love this recipe – beyond the use of ham morsels – is that I get to use my favorite lager as the base for the broth. I’m talking about the flavorful and astoundingly refreshing Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold. As always, be sure to buy enough so that you (and any dinner guests) have enough for the soup, some to enjoy while you cook, and some to savor with the meal after all your hard work.
What you will need:
- 2 bottles of Hacker-Schor Munich Gold
- 14 oz. chicken broth
- 1 ham bone
- 2 cups chopped cabbage (about half of a medium cabbage… use the rest for salad!)
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 8 scallions, sliced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup light cream
How it goes down:
In a crockpot, Dutch oven, or soup kettle, combine the beer, broth and roughly 30 oz. water (you want the total liquid for your soup broth to be 2 quarts). Lower in your ham bone and bring the soup broth to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. After that time, much of the meat should have fallen off the bone and into the soup. Remove the bone and once it is cool enough to handle, trim off the remainder of the meat, dice it and put it back in the pot with the cabbage, potato, carrot, celery, and scallions. Discard the bone (unless you’re very sentimental).
Let the soup cook for 40 minutes. In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat and use a whisk to gradually blend in the flour forming a bubbly paste. Next, slowly whisk in the cream and cook until the sauce thickens, then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in a cup of the soup liquid into the sauce, and then blend the sauce into the pot of soup (Trust me, this blending step is necessary).
Hands down the greatest potato soup I’ve had! This is a wonderful winter or spring meal because it’s hearty and creamy, yet the lager gives it a light and satiny texture. The ham adds massive flavor, but it doesn’t make the soup too heavy, and the chunks of root vegetables nearly make the soup a stew. Serve this soup with some fresh cracked black pepper with a couple slices of buttered thick-cut toast. With this dish you can stay inside and curl up on your couch. There’s no need to leave the house, you know, because summer’s not quite here yet…
Neal F., Beltramo’s Spirits Staff
“If Food Could Drink” is an ongoing Beltramo’s blog feature with the aim of showcasing the multitude possibilities for cooking with beer, wine, and spirits. Recipes may include anything from appetizers to entrees to deserts, and will range in complexity, but always with the goal of encouraging readers to explore the nuances and versatility of alcohol in the kitchen. Eat, Drink, and be Merry!