When it comes to food, cheese is definitely my guilty pleasure. It’s my go-to cure for any bad day, not to mention that it’s delicious with wine, which doesn’t hurt either!
Cheese curds, mozzarella sticks, pizza, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, baked brie, cheese fries, nachos, warm pretzels and cheese dip, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheesecake – the options are really endless.
If you’ve ever driven from Chicago to Milwaukee (or back) you know about the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Yes, it’s actually called that – and it’s got all sorts of cheese, and I always make sure to stop! Can you blame me? I spent many an afternoon while studying abroad in Florence, Italy tasting and exploring all the delicious cheeses in the markets. While we have some great gourmet cheese shops in Chicago, if you live near a Trader Joes or Costco, those are two of my favorite places to buy cheese for the variety and price!
Seeing as we’re getting closer to Fall, I’m getting excited to go apple picking and incorporate apples into a variety of sweet and savory dishes including my apple whiskey bread, baked apple pancake, apple cider donut bundt cake, and apple-bacon-caramel croissant bread pudding. If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, it just so happens that apples and cheese pair really well together! Some people even put cheddar in their apple pie, and though I have to admit, I’m a purist when it comes to apple pie, I recently thought that apples could be a great addition and way to dress up a grilled cheese sandwich, and that hard cider would be a great swap for beer in a beer cheese soup!
I love a classic grilled cheese with tomato soup – for me, that’s two slices of white bread with American cheese inside, and mayo, not butter, on the outside.
I also enjoy a more sophisticated grilled cheese – my short rib grilled cheese was a major hit during the pandemic.
I decided that an Apple Cider Cheese Soup paired with an Apple and Arugula Grilled Cheese would be a great sweet and savory combo that will be perfect for the cooler months ahead. Whether you make this for lunch, brunch, or dinner, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Apple Cider Cheese Soup and Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
For the Apple Cider Cheese Soup:
6 Tablespoons butter (divided into 2 Tablespoons and 4 Tablespoons)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 apples (I like Granny Smith, peel on), small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 12oz bottle or can of your favorite hard cider (I love Right Bee Cider!)
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
8oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4oz smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
1. In a large saucepan, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter.
2. Add onion, apple, garlic, thyme, and cayenne and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add 6oz of cider and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
4. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a simmer, about 5 minutes.
5. In a medium skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
6. Add flour to melted butter and stir to combine, cook 1-2 minutes to cook out the flour taste (you are making a roux!)
7. Add your roux into your saucepan, and bring to a boil to thicken, about 5-10 minutes.
8. Add heavy cream, milk, cheese, and the rest of the beer. Simmer until all the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with pepper.
9. While the soup is finishing, make your grilled cheese!
For the Apple and Arugula Grilled Cheese:
8 slices of your favorite bread (I like sourdough for this)
4 slices of cheddar
4 slices of gouda
1 apple (I like honeycrisp), thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple butter
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1. Lay out 8 slices of bread on a cutting board.
2. Spread each slice with 1 Tablespoon apple butter
3. Top 4 of the slices of bread with a slice of gouda, and top the other 4 slices of bread with a slice of cheddar.
4. On the slices with the gouda, layer 1/4 of the thinly sliced apple.
5. On the slices with the cheddar, add a small handful of arugula.
6. Sandwich together 1 slice with the gouda/apple and 1 slice of the cheddar/arugula – repeat to create 4 sandwiches.
7. Heat large skillet, or griddle, over medium high heat.
8. On the top slice of bread, spread 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise.
9. Place the sandwiches mayonnaise side down in the pan/grilled. Cook until golden brown (2-3 minutes).
10. Spread 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise on the exposed slice of bread. Flip the sandwich, and cook on the other side until golden brown (2-3 min).
11. Let the sandwich rest 1-2 minutes (so the cheese doesn’t ooze out!), slice in half, and enjoy with your Apple Cider Cheese Soup.
I hope this recipe has sparked some inspiration for you whether it comes to enjoying apples, cheese, or both. Come get your fill of apple everything at Lincoln Square’s Apple Fest on Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2 from 9am-6pm each day. We’re getting ready to bake 600 cast iron skillet apple pies that we’ll serve by the slice to over 4,000 guests! We’ll also be serving Dry and Semi Dry Right Bee Cider. We can’t wait to see you there!
If you love cheese as much as I do, be sure to come see us and check out some of our upcoming classes that will teach you some cheesy recipes:
- Hands-On Pasta Workshop Saturday, October 8 at 10am
- Hands-On Beyond the Burger on the Patio Saturday, October 8 at 11am
- Hands-On Tapas Saturday, October 15 at 6pm
- Hands-On Neapolitan Pizza Saturday, October 29 at 10am