I made pretzels again! Only this time I made bowls out of them and stuffed them full of the things pretzels go best with: cheese and beer! Yeah I did.
Let’s talk pretzels first.
Soft pretzels are actually really easy. If you can knead bread dough, you can make pretzels. Or if you have a stand mixer or bread machine that will do the work for you, even better! The only difference is that the dough is boiled with some baking soda before it goes in the oven. The baking soda is what causes the browned crust and makes it a pretzel instead of just regular bread.
The soup. Oh my goodness, the soup. Is there anything better than a cheese soup?! And this one starts with bacon which makes it that much better! And uhh, beer. The beer is not super noticeable in the final product but make sure you use a beer that you’d enjoy drinking and not the Natural Light that your husband’s friends left in your fridge 3 months ago.
The two put together were incredible! The cheesy soup seeped down into the pretzel and eating the bowl once I was done was the highlight of my day.
- 2 3/4 cups bread flour
- 1 envelope quick-rising yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons about hot water (125Â°F to 130Â°F)
- 8 cups water
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg white beaten to blend (glaze)
- Coarse salt
- 4 thick-cut bacon slices cut into 3-inch strips
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pale ale
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups about 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra crumbled bacon for garnish
Combine bread flour, 1 envelope yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and water in large bowl (or stand mixer) and stir until dough comes together in a ball. Put on floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. Grease medium bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 35 minutes.
Flour baking sheet. Punch dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 2 pieces. Form each dough piece into ball. Place dough balls on prepared sheet; cover with towel and let dough balls rise until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add baking soda and 2 tablespoons sugar (water will foam up). Add 1 bowl and cook 30 seconds before flipping over and cooking for another 30 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer bowl to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining bowl.
Brush bowl with egg white glaze. Sprinkle rolls generously with coarse salt. Bake rolls until brown, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool until you can handle them. Use a sharp serrated knife to remove the tops of the bowls and hollow them out.
In a 4 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 8 minutes.
Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pot. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ale and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire, milk and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth (or use a regular blender and do it in batches).
Set the pot over medium-low heat and add the cheese by the handful, stirring constantly; do not allow the soup to boil. Taste to see if you need salt and pepper - remember that your pretzel bowls are heavily salted so go light on the salt in the soup. Ladle into pretzel bowls and top with extra bacon, if desired.