Beer and Cheese Soup Recipe

I have no idea where beer-cheese soup originated. I would imagine that since the US capital of both beer and cheese are Wisconsin, the origin of the soup probably is the midwest.

In the early 1980's, there was a restaurant in Memphis, TN, named the "91st Bomb Group", located on the back side of the airport grounds. The building reminded me of a chateau, there was all kinds of WWII relics in front of the building, including several WWII of them was the famous B-17 bomber, the "Memphis Belle"...which happened to be in the real 91st Bomb Group.

When you walked into the building, you first walked through a narrow passageway with sandbags on each side of you, as if you were walking into a bunker. You walked from there into what resembled a large barn, complete with loft. Nearly every inch of the walls were covered with framed photos of WWII planes, flight crews, individual flight crew members, various Air Corps units, etc. Emitting from the speakers was big band music. The atmosphere was that of a nice, but not extremely formal eatery.

One of their specialties was a filling, warming soup, beer cheese soup. It was served in a wide heavy soupbowl, over a piece of crusty bread. From the first bite, I was enamored with this soup.

I ate in the restaurant several times during 1983 and 1984. In late 1984, I joined the US Army. Sometime while I was away from the area, the restaurant closed.

I have spent the last twenty years trying to make a passable soup, similar to that at the 91st. Until recently, I did not know that the restaurant was one of a chain of similar eateries, and several of them still exist around the country. You can find their locations by going to the website of Specialty Restaurants.

Anyway, I finally found online, a recipe that was supposed to be like the one I remembered. I tried it. It is. Actually, as I type, my belly is full of the wonderful beer cheese soup I remembered...and Benny Goodman is playing in the background.

For those of you that are new to cooking, be prepared to be patient and to do a lot of stirring. When heating milk, it is very easy to get impatient...and you will scorch it. I probably wouldn't drink any of the extra beer from the six-pack until the soup is done.

6 cups milk, divided
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. Tabasco Sauce (1/2 tsp + 1 dash was plenty)
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (I used Lea & Perrins brand)
1 1/2 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
4 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 (16 oz) jar Cheez Whiz (unfortunately, Cheez Whiz now comes in 15 oz jars. It worked fine)
1 (12 oz) can beer


In a skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Pour off 1/2 the fat. Not necessary if you use as large a skillet as I did.

added onion

Add onion, cook until translucent.


Add bullion. You may want to reduce heat, it gets pretty wierd after you add the granules.

added bacon

Pour the bacon mixture into the milk mixture. Slowly heat the mixture until well steaming (about 180F), stirring often.

I would remove the pan from heat at this time.


Add cornstarch and remainder of milk into bowl, stir until smooth. Stir this into milk mixture.

Replace pan on heat. Stir often.


Heat until mixture is thick, just before boiling. Remove from heat again.


Add Cheez Whiz. Replace on heat, stir constantly until cheese is incorporated into mixture.


Pour beer into mixture. Replace on heat, heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.


Strain solids from soup. You can add the bacon back for texture, but the restaurant didn't, I didn't either. I admit, I ate it from the colander.

all done

Pour into bowl, and eat it with some nice crusty bread. Reheat if necessary. I haven't tried yet, but soup probably will keep covered in the fridge for a day or two.

Recipe Written by fstroupe