Can I get a “Woop Woop!” for all the Wisconsinites in the house? This Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup with Maple Chili Spiced Popcorn (<–quite the mouthful!) is for you! It’s hearty and filling and the perfect game day recipe. Packer and Badger fans (or any fan!) –add this to your repertoire of game day grub!
Now, I’m a Minnesotan and also a loyal (and possibly the only) Vikings fan who’s stuck with the team through the good, bad, and ugly (mostly ugly). But today, I’m feeling the love and nostalgia for all things Wisconsin. My dad and some of my dearest family members hail from the land of cheese (or cheeseheads, I should say :-)). And lately, I’ve been really missing those childhood trips to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in eastern Wisconsin.
After the 5 hour car ride, I could always count on two things upon arrival at my grandparents’ house: Happy hour (for the adults) and a spread of snacks, including cheese curds and a plate of crackers with sharp cheddar cheese. Oh that cheese was sharp. I remember taking small bites of it to please Nana, but always giving the rest to my dad because it was way too strong. Nana had a saying, “If you’re hungry in my house, it’s your own damn fault!” So I may not have filled up on the cheese, but you can bet I was front and center when she put dessert on the table. My love affair with lemon bars started there.
Anyway, back to the cheese. I don’t know what my palate was doing back then because today I think sharp cheddar cheese is the bomb, especially when melted into soups :-).
So, yes, sharp cheddar cheese is an absolute must for this recipe. I’d even recommend extra sharp cheddar cheese. Or, you could really get the party started and go for the extra sharp white vintage cheddar like I did. Whatever you do, just make sure it says “sharp” on the package!
Now the pumpkin –it gives the soup a subtle autumn flavor. But most importantly, it acts as a thickener and adds creaminess, which eliminates the need for any heavy cream or milk. Score!
The soup comes together quite easily. Saute your base of onions and garlic. Add the broth and beer. Simmer. Add the pumpkin and cheese. And done! Friends, family, Packer fans, Badger fans, Viking fans (if you’re out there), make this soup in honor of:
- the wonderful state of Wisconsin
- delicious sharp cheddar cheese and
- great memories with your loved ones
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (2 cans)
- 1 can light beer
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 4 cups plain popcorn, popped
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin puree
- 5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook Extra Sharp Vintage Cheddar)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- light sour cream (optional)
- In a stock pot or dutch oven, melt the butter. Then, add in the onions and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add in the garlic. Cook for another minute. Add in the broth and beer. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and chili powder. Spread popcorn onto a lined baking sheet. Drizzle the maple syrup mixture over the popcorn. Toss the popcorn to coat. Bake for 10 minutes. Be sure to watch it closely so it doesn’t burn! Set aside.
- To finish the soup, stir in the pumpkin. Then, add the cheese and stir until melted. Add the Worcestershire sauce. If you’d like a completely smooth soup, blend with an immersion blender until it reaches your desired consistency. Then, give the soup a taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Top with a handful of popcorn and a dollop of light sour cream (optional).