Jun 19, 2014

Wisconsin Beer-Cheese Soup

This recipe is brought to you by the state of ...
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Wisconsin, known as America's Dairyland and also famous for its beer and brats and German/Scandinavian foods. It is bordered by the states of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois and a Great Lake state with Lake Superior to the north and Lake Michigan to the east. The name of the state is taken from the Wisconsin River that was named by Algonquian tribes living in the region when Europeans first made contact. French explorers, Jean Nicolet (1634) and Jacques Marquette, was the first European to reach the Wisconsin River in 1673. It is thought the name is a derivative of the Miami tribe word Meskonsing, meaning red river because the Wisconsin River flows through reddish sandstone of the Wisconsin Dells.
The territory of Wisconsin was officially named in 1845 and has been populated by various people for the past 12,000 years. 
The first people arrived about 10,000 BC during the Wisconsin Glaciation period. The Boaz mastodon was hunted in the area by Paleo-Natives. The Wisconsin heartland became scattered with Effigy Mounds that scattered the landscape at the end of the Woodland period between 1000 BC to 1000 AD. Mississippian and Oneota cultures as well as the fortified villages of Aztalan lived in southeast Wisconsin. Other Native American tribes living in Wisconsin when Europeans first arrived included the Ojibwa, Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie, of which a state park located in Door County Peninsula is named.
Wisconsin became a territorial possession of the United States in 1783. The British remained in control until after the War of 1812. When the Americans took control, the Wisconsin economy shifted from fur trading to lead mining. Some miners made shelters in holes dug into the hillsides and mountains which gave them the nickname of badgers; which led to Wisconsin's name as the Badger State, named after the mammal found in the region.
When lead mining diminished, agriculture became a principal occupation, especially in the southern half of the state as people began to settle in the territory. Railroads helped transport grains to market as well as ships at Lake Superior and Lake Michigan ports. Lumbering had deforested most of the state by the close of the 19th century, which declined its lumber industry and farmers shifted from growing wheat to raising dairy cows, growing peas to feed them and later corn. Immigrants from Europe brought their skills in cheese making and since dairy milk was plentiful, the cheese processing industry quickly developed along with breweries that flourished in Milwaukee. Today, over 46% of Wisconsin land is covered by forest. Today tourism pays an important role in Wisconsin economy, especially Wisconsin Dells, Door Peninsula and Washington Island. Green Bay is home to the popular football team, the Green Bay Packers.
Renard's Cheese is a locally and family owned cheese processing establishment since 1961.
Cheese and beer has made Wisconsin famous, so this recipe follows suit …
1-1/2 cups diced carrots
1-1/2 cups diced onions
1-1/2 cups diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups beer
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk or half-and-half
6 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
popped popcorn for garnish

  1. In large saucepan over medium heat, stir together carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Stir in hot pepper sauce, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Pour in chicken broth and beer; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Heat butter in large soup pot over medium-heat. Stir in flour with a wire whisk; cook, stirring until flour is light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually stir in milk, whisking to prevent scorching, until thickened. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in cheese. Keep warm.
  3. Stir beer mixture into cheese mixture. Stir in Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and dry mustard. Adjust for hot pepper sauce. Bring to a simmer, and cook 10 minutes. Serve topped with popcorn.
NOTE: The 101st Airborne, US Army has adopted a similar beer-cheese soup from this recipe.

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