Cheddar & Beer Soup with Hearty Homemade Croutons

  • 1/2 lb hearty bread, cut into 3/4” cubes
  • 7 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup white flour
  • 1 12-oz bottle mild ale or lager
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Minced chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 250°F.  In a large bowl, toss bread with 4 Tbsp olive oil and spread evenly on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake about 30 minutes until crisp, tossing once.  Set aside.  Heat 3 Tbsp oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add onion, carrots, and celery; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 15 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes.  Add the beer and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.  While stirring, add mustard, milk, and broth.  Increase heat to med-high, bring soup to a gentle simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes.  Lower heat to medium-low and add cheese in small batches, stirring constantly, until all cheese is melted.  Do not to let soup boil.  Season with salt & pepper.  Top each bowl with chives and hearty croutons.