Recipe: German Beer and Cheese Soup (Bierkäsesuppe)

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Around the World in 30 Soups: This month we’re collaborating with chefs, cookbook authors, and our own Kitchn crew to share a globetrotting adventure in soups from countries and cuisines around the world. Today’s stop: Germany.

Chef power couple Jeremy and Jessica Nolen, authors of New German Cooking, offer up a crowd favorite from their restaurant that ties together the German soup traditions we crave the most: beer, cheese, and bread. All in one bowl!

There are beer soups and cheese soups in Germany and also some soups thickened with bread, so I kept that in mind and tried to create something of my own. A fall and winter dish that we’ve served at our restaurant for years, this soup always sells like crazy. With beer, Emmentaler cheese, and rye bread together in one warming, satisfying bowl, I imagined it as something you would get in some Alpine tavern or something — maybe after skiing or other winter activities.

It’s important to use a malty dark lager, like Spaten Optimator, for this soup, as hoppier beers will turn it bitter. Accompany the soup with freshly baked bread or soft pretzels.

Jeremy and Jessica Nolen, authors of New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited

Beer Cheese Soup (Bierkäsesuppe)

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1

    small yellow onion, diced

  • 1

    small leek, white and green parts, diced

  • 2

    garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1

    small carrot, peeled and diced

  • 1

    stalk celery, diced

  • 3 (12-ounce) bottles

    Spaten Optimator, Ayinger Celebrator, or other double-bock beer

  • 1 pound

    Emmentaler or Gruyère cheese, grated

  • 2 tablespoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 slices

    hearty rye bread, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons

    chopped fresh chives

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter, onion, leek, garlic, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and are lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the beer, cheese, Worcestershire, thyme, salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and stir well. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then turn the heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring often, for 45 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the bread and continue cooking, stirring often, until the bread softens, about 15 minutes.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly. Working in batches, transfer to a blender and process on medium speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes.

  3. Return the soup to the pot and reheat gently until hot. Ladle into individual bowls, sprinkle with the chives and a dusting of pepper, if desired, and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted from New German Cooking by Jeremy and Jessica Nolen with permission by Chronicle Books, 2015.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Chronicle Books)

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