We're giving this classic, creamy beer cheese soup a cozy fall twist by adding a few fresh apples to the mix. The apple taste is subtle, but it brings a whole new layer of flavor to this easy autumn soup recipe.
This soup just screams fall. It starts with a classic beer and cheddar cheese soup base, but we're giving it a fresh spin with crisp apples and a few spices.
The apples aren't too over-the-top in this recipe; if you didn't know they were there, you might not even guess that's what you were tasting. But they lend a subtle sweetness and a bit of acidity here, which really brightens up what would otherwise be a pretty rich, heavy soup.
Our other secret weapon? A few stalks of celery, which lends a bit of umami and bitterness to balance out all of our other flavors. Don't skip this important ingredient!
Our basic order of operations
- Sauté onion and celery in olive oil until you start to get some nice, caramelized, brown color on the veggies.
- Add your apples and cook another few minutes so they start to soften, then stir in some salt and spices along with a bit of flour (this forms a roux, which will help thicken our soup as it cooks).
- Stream in the beer and chicken stock (or veggie stock!) and simmer until everything is nice and soft, then use an immersion blender to purée the soup until it's smooth.
- Return the soup to a simmer over low-medium heat until it thickens up a bit, then stir in some heavy cream and shredded cheese with a bit of fresh cracked black pepper to finish things off.
Serve this soup with a cozy autumn grilled cheese sandwich, a quick arugula salad, or plenty of crusty bread for dipping! (Pro tip: Make a quick grilled cheese with a few slices of our jalapeño cheddar bread to take this soup to a whole new level).
Three tips for excellent soup
- Add salt in layers. As with any recipe, it's important to season as you go to ensure the flavors really pop. Add a pinch of salt (we use and recommend Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt) just before stirring in the flour and spices and right after you add the beer and chicken stock. After you add the cheese and cream, give the soup a taste and add additional salt if the flavors aren't quite popping yet!
- Make sure the veggies are very soft before blending: A piece of apple should smush down fairly easily when you press it into the side of a pot with a spoon or spatula. This can take awhile - be patient! That squish-ability is the key to a smooth, silky soup.
- Use a powerful immersion blender. A great blender is the key to a smooth soup here. If your immersion blender doesn't always get soups or sauces as creamy as you'd like, you may want to peel the apples before cooking to help eliminate as much extra texture as possible. Also: For the creamiest soup, keep blending for a minute or two even after the soup is mostly smooth!
Riffs and Substitutions
- Swap the apples for fresh pears or diced butternut squash!
- For a smoother soup, peel the apples before adding them to the saucepan. You can also run the just-blended soup (before adding any cream or cheese) through a fine mesh sieve or a food mill to remove any lingering texture.
- Swap the beer for extra chicken stock or heavy cream if you'd like to keep it non-alcoholic (we've also tested this soup with non-alcoholic beer - it works great!)
- Mix up the cheeses. Swap up to 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese for gruyere, goat cheese, havarti, pepper jack, or smoked gouda in this recipe. You can also use sharp white cheddar cheese in place of the yellow cheddar here!
- Use half and half instead of heavy cream (you can use milk if you need to, but the soup won't be quite as thick and creamy!)
- To make it a bit heartier (kind of like a stew!), make this soup all the way through as directed, then add some mix-ins. We like stirring baby spinach or kale, cooked Italian sausage, shredded chicken, cooked wild rice, diced carrots, or roasted broccoli into this soup.
This is a fairly rich soup - it's best paired with something light and crisp to balance it out (although if you're in a "go big or go home" kind of mood, it's also excellent with a good grilled cheese sandwich or some cheesy bread). Some of our favorite sides:
A few FAQs
While the apple flavor is quite mellow here, it really depends on what apples you use (and they can vary widely by type, location, and time of year). Choose an apple that's somewhere in the middle between super sweet (like a Fuji or Gala apple) and super tart (like Granny Smith, which tend to overpower this soup). We've tested this recipe with (and liked!) various combinations of Honeycrisp, Sansa, McIntosh, and Cortland apples. You can use a mix of different apple varieties here, too - they don't all have to be the same kind!
Our not-always-helpful answer is simple: Use a beer you like to drink! We recommend staying towards the lighter side: pilsners, lagers, lighter IPAs, and wheat or witbiers are all great choices. Bitter, double hopped IPAs or heavier beers like stouts and porters will likely be a bit too intense for this recipe (but if you love that taste, go for it!) We have tested this recipe with Southern Tier IPA (delicious, but hoppy!), Athletic Brewing Nonalcoholic Free Wave IPA (honestly, this was my favorite of all our tests) and a local Belgian-style wheat beer (my other favorite).
Yes! This soup keeps quite well in the fridge or freezer. Make soup as directed, let it cool completely, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. (Note: We don't recommend freezing this soup in mason jars, as it can expand too quickly while freezing and crack the jars). Thaw frozen soup overnight in the fridge and reheat in a saucepan over low heat. If the soup separates or looks grainy at all upon reheating, stir in an extra splash of heavy cream and zap it with an immersion blender to smooth it back out.
Give this classic, creamy beer cheese soup a fun fall twist by adding a few fresh apples!
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 large celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 3 small apples, cored and roughly chopped (or 2 large apples)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup beer (we like a wit, a pilsner, or a light IPA here)
- 1 ½ cups chicken or veggie stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 cups)
- Extra shredded cheddar cheese
- Sliced green onions (scallions)
- Pepitas (what are pepitas?)
- Crispy Bacon Bits
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and celery to pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until onion has softened and veggies begin to brown.
- Add apples to pot and stir to combine. Cook for another 5 minutes, until apples just begin to soften. Stir in a pinch of salt.
- Add flour, ground mustard, and paprika; stir to combine. Cook for 30-60 seconds to cook out any raw flour taste.
- Add beer to pot a little at a time, stirring well to break up any chunks of flour. Add stock and another pinch of salt; stir to combine.
- Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes until the veggies are tender and the apples are soft (you should be able to easily “smush” an apple piece by pressing it into the side of the pot with your spoon).
- Turn off the heat, then use an immersion blender to carefully blend the soup until smooth. Always use caution when blending hot liquids; to avoid splattering, make sure the head of the immersion blender is completely submerged in the soup.
- Turn the heat back to medium, and let the soup simmer another 5-10 minutes or until it reaches your desired thickness.
- Turn off the heat. Stir heavy cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper into the soup until the cheese is melted and the soup is smooth. If the cheese starts to separate or the soup looks too grainy, blend it again with the immersion blender to smooth it all out.
- Taste soup; add extra salt or pepper if needed.
- Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with your favorite toppings, and serve immediately.
Additions and Substitutions. Use sharp white cheddar cheese here if you like. You can also swap up to 1 cup of the cheddar cheese for smoked gouda, goat cheese, gruyere, fontina, or pepper jack cheeses. Use additional chicken or vegetable stock in place of beer, or use a nonalcoholic beer if you prefer. Use half and half instead of heavy cream if you like. You can use milk instead of cream if you need to, but the soup won’t be quite as thick.
How to measure beer. Pour beer into a liquid measuring cup until it's not quite at the 1-cup mark, let it sit for a few minutes to let any foam settle, then slowly add more beer to the measuring cup until it reaches the desired level (too much foam on top can give you an inaccurate measurement).
What kind of beer should I use? We like using pilsners, lagers, lighter IPAs, and wheat/wit beers in this recipe for best results. Super hoppy IPAs or heavy stouts and porters can overpower the other flavors here.
What kind of apples should I use? Apples that fall somewhere in the middle of the flavor spectrum (not too sweet, but not too tart) are best in this recipe. Granny smith apples are too tart here, and Red Delicious apples can border on too sweet. Apples vary WIDELY, so don’t be afraid to play around! We tested this recipe with Empire, Sansa, and Honeycrisp apples - all were delicious.
The final color of this soup will vary depending on the beer, stock, and cheese you use. In the photos above, we used a dark colored beer and store-bought veggie stock (which can run very orange-y); in our forthcoming how-to video, we used a lighter beer and homemade chicken stock, which resulted in a soup that was much lighter in color.
Adjusting the consistency. Once blended, if the soup is too thick, add a splash of stock or heavy cream to thin it out a bit. If the soup is too thin, let it simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the soup reaches your desired consistency.
Store leftover beer cheese soup in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To store, let soup cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Reheat soup in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Use leftover soup as the base for a beer mac and cheese or serve it as a dipping sauce (like fondue!) with homemade soft pretzels, veggies, or sausage.
For a smoother soup, peel the apples before coring and dicing them. A strong immersion blender or countertop blender should give you a very smooth soup (even with the peels), but in our recipe testing we did notice a slight variation depending on which brand and style of immersion blender was used. If you’d like an even smoother texture, strain the blended soup through a mesh sieve or run it through the fine blade of a food mill before adding the heavy cream and shredded cheese.
No immersion blender? If you don't have an immersion blender, carefully transfer soup to a blender in batches and blend until smooth. Be sure to remove the center cap piece on your blender’s lid before blending to allow steam to escape - otherwise the steam can build up and pop the top off to make a huge mess. Cover the hole in the lid with a clean tea towel for a moment when you begin blending and again when you stop the blender to avoid splattering. Always follow the care instructions on your equipment and use caution when blending hot soups.
Keywords: beer, fall, bisque, creamy