Swiss Beer Soup

There was a run on longs johns and oatmeal after we experienced our coldest day ever last week. Severe weather spells like that one also bring on a hankering for homemade soups--the kind that stick to your ribs. If you're tired of the same old chicken noodle, then here's one that will warm you down to your toes--Swiss Beer Soup.

The secret to this onion soup is the gruyère cheese, a Swiss specialty--named after the town of the same name. A very versatile cheese made from cow's milk, it is similar to swiss, but definitely stronger in taste and widely available in most grocery stores. If you find it too strong of a taste, you can always substitute your favorite swiss cheese. You can practice your yodeling in the kitchen as you put this together for 6 servings:

1 cup                French bread, no crust
3 TB                 oil
1 ea.                large onion, diced
1 clove              garlic, minced
12 oz.               beer
3 cups               chicken broth
1 tsp                paprika
12 oz.               gruyere cheese

Turn your oven on bake, then dice up the bread. Toast the bread in the oven until golden brown. In a soup pan, saute the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions are golden brown. Add the chicken broth, beer and paprika. Simmer 30 minutes. Now place your soup in 6 oven proof bowls, top with toasted bread and layer 2 ounces of gruyere cheese slices over the top of each. Place in the oven until the cheese melts.

Serve with a hunk of French bread and some wine. It's a toss up whether to serve red or white with this hearty soup--whatever mood strikes you. California's Seghesio from the Sonoma Valley, in existence since 1902, makes a wonderful Pinot Noir and a great Chardonnay. Neither will make a big dent in your pocketbook. So the next time you find yourself climbing the Matterhorn or tobaggoning down a Michigan run, leave a pot of Swiss Beer Soup simmering at home to warm your vittles when the gang returns. And remember, a good cook appreciates nature and what it has to offer to make you a creative cook--especially in the frozen tundra!