BEER CHEDDAR SOUP (Adapted from Food and Wine)

This soup is a luscious little gem — creamy and rich and satisfying. It gets thrown together quickly so could easily be a quick weeknight meal with a salad or sandwich. The lager and fresh thyme make all the difference here. 1/2 pound piece of slab bacon, sliced 1/3 inch thick and cut into 1/3-inch dice 1 celery rib, finely chopped 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped 2 large garlic cloves, minced 1 TBSP chopped thyme One 12-ounce bottle lager or pilsner About 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth 4 TBSP unsalted butter 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded 4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded Salt and freshly ground pepper In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl. Add the celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer. In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk this roux into the soup until incorporated and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth if the soup is too thick. ***The cheddar soup can be cooled and then refrigerated overnight. Rewarm and thin with broth. Makes ~ 6 bowls or 10 cups. How gorgeous is this soup? All packed up and ready to transport to my tailgate party:  

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