Cheddar Beer Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 Cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 Cup)
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 Cup)
2 tsp finely-chopped garlic
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 stick (1/4 Cup) unsalted butter
1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
2 Cups whole milk
1 3/4 Cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass
1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably English; rind removed if necessary), grated (4 Cups)
4 bacon slices (3-1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled

STEPS

Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating the water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander.

Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.

Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil!). Discard bay leaf.

Serve sprinkled with crumbled bacon.

This is great with Pretzel Bread or any bread drizzled with Butter Olive Oil!