STS Cookin': Abita Wild Rice & Cheese Soup

This week in STS Cookin' we take a look at something everyone can get behind, cooking with beer. With the cold weather we are going to combine cooking with beer and soup. This is a beer, cheese, and rice soup originally, but I modified it slightly to add some chicken to it. I needed protein in my dinner, and this seemed easier than cooking chicken every night to go with my soup.

This recipe comes from Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True. The book is the brainchild of Abita Brewing Company, makers of Abita Beer. All of the readers here can find Abita beer in their local grocery stores, and it is a decent beer to try if you are looking to expand your horizons. The cookbook runs the gamut from appetizers to desserts, and not only uses a variety of Abita's products, but also pairs each recipe with the proper beer to drink with it too. There is also a breakdown of the different Abita products, along with some basic information on the beer brewing process, plus plenty of pretty pictures. The cookbook is out of print, but if you can find it on Amazon I highly recommend it as an entry into cooking with beer.

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese

4 tsp. all-purpose Flour

2 tsp. unsalted Butter

2 tbl. finely chopped Onions

14 ounces reduced sodium Chicken Broth

1 cup chopped Apples (such as Braeburn)

1/2 cup cooked Wild Rice (or whatever type of rice you prefer)

1 (12 ounce) bottle of Abita Amber or Turbodog

ground White Pepper, to taste

2/3 cup Half-and-Half

1 lbs. boneless Chicken Breasts

A note on using beer when cooking. I have found that the best way to cook with it is to let it sit and warm to room temperature before cooking with it. This will also allow the beer to become flat which helps make it easier to cook with. This isn't a required step, but I have found it can make a big difference in the taste.

Instructions:

1. Mix the cheese and flour together in a bowl and set aside.

2. Season the chicken to taste with any spices you want and cook completely in a skillet.


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3. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and cook or 3 minutes or until the onions are soft.

4. Cut up the chicken and apples into small, bite sized pieces.


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5. Add the broth, chicken, apples, cooked rice, beer, and white pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.


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6. Reduce heat to low and slowly stir in the floured cheese until melted. Add half-and-half and stir to blend. Cook for 3 -5 minutes and serve with warm, crusty bread for dipping.


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