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Vermont Cheddar Ale Soup

Perfect fall and winter dish, comfort food to the max! Ingredients:

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) Cabot Unsalted Butter
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
1 rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 (12-ounce) bottle ale, such as Bass
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 4 cups)
4 slices bacon (3 1/2 ounces), cooked and crumbled

Directions:
1. Melt butter in heavy medium-sized pot over medium heat. When butter is hot, add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. 

2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. 

3. Gradually whisk in milk, then broth, then beer. Bring to simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes. 

4. Stir in Worcestershire, mustard, salt and pepper.

5. Reduce heat and add cheese by the handful, stirring constantly, until all of cheese is melted and soup is hot (do not let soup boil). 

6. Discard bay leaf and serve sprinkled with bacon.

Recipe courtesy of The Essex Resort & Spa, Essex Junction, VT.