This healthy Beer Cheese Soup with cauliflower and butternut squash is a healthy twist on a classic! This soup is perfect for both Oktoberfest and Game Day!
For as long as I can remember, Oktoberfest was simply a thing that happened other places.
Places like Germany... and King's Island in Ohio.
And then, in 2017, I ended up at not one, but TWO Oktoberfest events. One of them, funny enough, wasn't far from King's Island-- at Octoberfest Zincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio.
At both events-- I was HUNGRY.
Oktoberfest, I discovered, is a festival for meat lovers. Or at the very least, if you aren't a meat lover, you might find yourself dining on beer, pretzels, and sauerkraut.
Delicious? Yes. Filling? No.
And so, when October 2018 rolled around, and we were invited to another Oktoberfest party, I found myself wondering about the food. Would it be all bratwurst and schnitzel?
Happily, my mother-in-law suggested beer cheese soup. And I started playing in the kitchen.
What happened next was delicious.
This is not traditional beer cheese soup. This is a healthier soup.
This is a beer cheese soup you that you can turn into a meal, and as you polish it off, feel full and satisfied. It's also thick enough to be a pretzel dip!
And why am I sharing an Oktoberfest soup in November-- when Oktoberfest is clearly over?
Because this beer cheese soup is also PERFECT FOR GAME DAY! And you can save the recipe for next year's Oktoberfest!
Kentucky Beer Cheese vs. Cheese with Beer
I brought this soup to a party in Kentucky, and there were a lot of confused looks I said that it had both beer and sharp cheddar, and not "beer cheese".
You see, in Kentucky, beer cheese is its own thing. It's generally a cheese sauce that's creamy, garlicky, and sold in tubs as a spread.
If you're from Kentucky, or happen to love Kentucky beer cheese, this is a heads-up that this soup is not made from pre-made beer cheese.
Why Add Cauliflower to Beer Cheese Soup?
I love using cauliflower instead of a butter and flour roux to thicken a soup. I used cauliflower in my Cauliflower Broccoli Soup, and was excited to try it again here.
Since cauliflower has such a mild flavor, it primarily takes on the flavor of whatever else you add to the soup. And of course, swapping out flour, butter, and some of the cheese for cauliflower means that the soup is healthier!
Don't worry-- there will still be plenty of cheese!
Why Add Butternut Squash to Beer Cheese Soup?
My first batch of the soup was good... but it wasn't GREAT. It didn't make me want to come back for more.
Something was missing. That something was butternut squash.
Butternut squash adds a sweetness to the soup, and helps round out the flavor. Plus, since we're using less cheese, it helps give this soup its gorgeous bright yellow hue.
Can I Use Pre-Cut Butternut Squash?
It will probably be sold in cubes, and the recipe calls for slices-- but that's simply because I think it's easier to slice a butternut squash than cube it. The shape doesn't really matter in this recipe.
Can I Make This Soup Gluten-Free?
Yes! Just grab your favorite gluten-free beer and use it instead of a traditional lager.
Beer Cheese Soup with Cauliflower
- 1 butternut squash (medium-sized), peeled, deseeded, and cut into ½" thick slices
- 1 cauliflower head (medium-sized), broken into florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes Double for a spicier soup
- 1 ½ cups milk (2% or whole)
- 1 cup lager-style beer, plus more if desired
- 1 cup vegetable broth, plus more if desired
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar, freshly shredded
- 2 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
- warm pretzels, to serve with (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.Arrange the butternut squash on a single layer on a baking sheet. Arrange the cauliflower florets on a separate baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, and then sprinkle the salt, paprika, and chili flakes over the veggies.
- Add the squash to the oven. After 15 minutes, add the cauliflower to the oven. Roast until both trays of veggies are tender when pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes total for the squash, 15 minutes total for the cauliflower).
- Add veggies, milk, beer, broth and cheese to a soup pot. Use an immersion blender and blend until creamy. Alternatively, add the ingredients to a blender basin, and work in batches if your blender is too small.Note: Depending on the size of your vegetables, you may need to add more liquid to the soup. Taste the soup, and add more beer if you want a stronger beer flavor, or more broth for a milder flavor.
- Warm soup in the soup pot until heated through.Alternatively, heat on low in a slow cooker until warm, and keep slow cooker set to "warm" while serving guests at a party.Serve with pretzels.