slow cooker cheddar fondue soup

This cheesy fondue soup is a beautiful, rich, creamy fall treat.  Lots and lots of cheesy goodness with the tang of a good full-bodied beer (I used an Alaskan Amber for this one!) and a smoky hint of spice. 

It really does taste like a big bowl of fondue.  Yum!

I am beyond obsessed with soups lately...  I know I've used that word quite a bit recently, so if you're keeping track:  Soup + eggnog + pumpkin = my current obsessions.

There's just something about soup when it's cold out.  It's so comforting.  Every part of it!

The mouthwatering smells as it simmers away all day long...

The rich soothing taste as you slurp it up with lots of fresh bread...

The fact that it tastes even better the next day when you heat up some leftovers!

Seriously...  how does it get much better than that??

This soup really, really, really tastes better after it has had a day to sit and meld in the fridge.

So much so that if you are making this for company, I would suggest you make it ahead and just reheat it.  You will be amazed at how great it tastes after sitting a day or two!

Please don't be scared of the instant mashed potatoes.  They are a great secret-ingredient for thickening soups quickly...  and if you check the packages, you can find brands with no weird ingredients...  just potatoes & salt!

(Oh, I added a bit of chicken to the soup... because we just love meat.  And a little protein never hurts!  But it's definitely not necessary, so feel free to leave out the chicken if you want!)

Slow Cooker Cheddar Fondue Soup Recipe
adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker Vol II

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, thinly chopped
2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1" chunks
(1 chicken breast, optional)
1 cup full-bodied beer
6 cups chicken stock
1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cups shredded Tillamook medium or sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup, or so, instant mashed potatoes
salt & pepper, to taste

In a skillet, saut√© the onions is butter over medium-high heat until they are just brown.  Stir in the garlic for a few seconds and then dump it all into the crockpot.  (Alternately you can put the onions and melted butter into the crockpot on HIGH for one hour and then add the garlic and continue with the recipe below.)

Dump in the celery, potatoes, beer, stock & spices and stir.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, until the veggies are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

Take out the chicken breast and shred it or chop it up and set aside.  With a potato masher, mash up the potato chunks in the soup, until it is creamy, but still a bit chunky.  Add the chicken back in.

Add the cheese into the crockpot and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until melted.  If the soup is not as thick as you'd like (we like our soups thick!) slowly sprinkle in instant mashed potatoes until it has reached the consistency you'd like and season wit salt & pepper to taste

Serve with lots of bread, apples & veggies to dip in it!

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