Dining around the Walt Disney World Resort has become a significant part of the whole Disney vacation experience for many, especially with all the international cuisines around Epcot’s World Showcase. Whether you choose classic French cuisine, authentic Mexican fare or fine dining from our neighbors in the Great North, you are sure to find something to please your palate.
One of my favorite places to dine in Epcot is Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada Pavilion. The wine-cellar atmosphere creates the perfect ambiance for an upscale dining experience and the perfectly aged, corn-fed prime rib and filet mignon and distinct seafood specialties are outstanding. While I am a huge fan of their fork-tender filets and the maple creme brûlée, one of my favorite menu items at Le Cellier Steakhouse is the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.
The Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup is rich, creamy and so well-loved that it has been a staple on the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival menu line-up for many years. This soup definitely can hit the spot on a cold, wintery day and when you need a taste of your favorite place, it’s a rather simple recipe to make at home.
The ingredients are uncomplicated yet the finished product is elegant enough to serve as a first course for your formal Christmas dinner. The original recipe from Pam Brandon and the Disney Chefs calls for Neuske’s Peppered Bacon and Moosehead Lager, but I have a hard time finding those brands where I live. I either use Wright’s or Smithfield’s Hickory Smoked Bacon and whatever pale ale or lager I have on hand. This time, I used Samuel Adams Winter Lager, which is a bold and rich lager with a touch of holiday spice, and it gave the soup a wonderful flavor.
When making this recipe at home, it is important to remember to use freshly grated white cheddar cheese. Of course, you can always take a short cut and buy sharp yellow cheddar already grated but your recipe will not turn out the way it is supposed to. Keep in mind the pre-packaged cheddars are coated with a preservative to prevent sticking and will not do well in this recipe.
The key to making this soup recipe perfect is “low and slow.” It takes about an hour from beginning to end and if you try to rush through it, you may just ruin your work. Also, stirring is key to making this soup recipe perfect. When in doubt, STIR STIR STIR! Ready to make this recipe at home? Here we go….
Here’s what you will need:
- 1/2 pound bacon cut into 1/4” pieces
- 1 medium red onion cut into 1/4” pieces
- 3 celery ribs cut into 1/4” pieces
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 pound white cheddar cheese freshly grated
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 cup pale ale or lager, room temperature
- Course salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Crumbled bacon for garnish
- Chopped scallions for garnish
- In a 4-5 quart dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Add the red onion, celery and butter and cook until the onion and celery have softened, stirring constantly.
- Reduce the heat to medium. This is where you will make your roux. Stir in the flour and cook for approximately 4 minutes. The vegetables and the bacon will be coated nicely in this step and you will want the flour to turn a slight brown color.
- Whisk in the chicken stock, stirring constantly to avoid any lumps and bring to a boil for one minute. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will become very thick in this step.
- Add the milk, stirring constantly, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. It is important to remember NOT to allow the milk to boil in this step as scalded milk will ruin the recipe.
- Remove from the heat and gradually add the grated cheddar, stirring for a creamy consistency. Once all of the cheese is melted and the soup is smooth, add the Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.
- Stir in the room temperature pale ale or lager slowly. Don’t be alarmed – the ale or lager WILL make the soup bubble a bit. Stir to mix completely.
- Serve the soup piping hot and garnish with crumbled bacon and scallions.
The Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup from Le Cellier Steakhouse makes a beautiful addition to your holiday table but is also meal unto itself. Pair it with a nice crusty bread and a glass of Merlot, Cabernet or your favorite red wine for a wonderful Disney treat during the holidays.