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 planes...one 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
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
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
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.
Add onion, cook until translucent.
Add bullion. You may want to reduce heat, it gets pretty wierd after you
add the granules.
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
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,
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.
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