1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 ribs celery, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Guinness beer or another stout, preferably more for drinking
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 pound shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
8 clices thick-cut bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
For Garlic Croutons:
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pound loaf focaccia or any crusty bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
For soup: In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, taking great care not to let it burn. Add the butter and when it melts, stir in the onion and celery and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stir well, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the beer and bring to a simmer. Scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the stock, cream, and dry mustard and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to ensure a smooth soup. When the soup is smooth and simmering steadily, whisk in the cheese until melted. Stir in the Worcestershire.
For croutons (makes about 4 cups, you'll only use 2 cups for the soup preparation): Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, Parmesan, and garlic. Add the thyme and rosemary and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the bread cubes and toss gently to coat. Spread the bread cubes in a baking dish, leaving a little space between the cubes. Bake, stirring several times to ensure even browning, for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
Transfer the croutons to a cool plate or pan and let cool to room temperature. Store in a tightly lidded container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
To serve: ladle the soup into 4 soup bowls and garnish with the bacon and croutons. Serve with cold Guinness to drink.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Steak with Friends: At Home, with Rick Tramonto by Rick Tramonto and Mary Goodbody. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2010