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I grew up on Long Island.  I’m a New Yorker at heart.  It’s in my blood and always will be.  While I may live in Las Vegas now, I have awesome memories of growing up back East and places I visited with my family and friends.  One particular restaurant that I visited frequently with friends of mine (and also celebrated some fantastic family milestones at), was the 56th Fighter Squadron Restaurant.

The restaurant sat on the grounds of Republic Airport.  A small, local airport in Farmingdale, NY.  It is home to a lot of history.  Republic Airport was also where one of the scenes from the movie “Sabrina” was filmed, which starred Harrison Ford.  Pretty cool right in my own backyard!

The restaurant was decorated in a very homey, cozy feel with a number of working fireplaces and World War II memorabilia throughout.  The waiters and waitresses were dressed time period attire (think late 1800’s early 1900’s).  Outside was an army jeep, with sandbags, and other WWII fighter planes as well.  One of the coolest things about the restaurant is that in some of the booths, there were headphones.  You could listen to the tower and flights taking off and landing.

But this blog is about food, so enough about the restaurant.  Let’s talk about the food!  It was delicious!  They made one of the best prime ribs I’ve ever had.  But one of the most unique items on their menu was one of my absolute favorites – Beer Cheese Soup.  It was incredible!  Creamy, mellow, smooth, and a hint of spice.  It was perfect on a cold night!

Since leaving New York and moving to Las Vegas, the Beer Cheese Soup at the 56th Fight Squadron Restaurant is a little hard to come by.  So I did some digging and found similar restaurants throughout the country to the 56th Fighter Group and as luck would have it, I found a recipe.  And it’s the real deal!  Not a copycat!  Bingo!

I made it for Super Bowl Sunday several years ago and it was a hit!  I love it.  It also freezes well too so making a big batch of it and freezing it makes things easier too!  Just defrost it in the fridge a few days before you want to use it, and reheat it on the stove.  It comes together perfectly once it’s heated through.

When you read the ingredients, you’re going to wonder, huh?  Cheez Whiz?  Yup, this recipe calls for an entire jar of Cheez Whiz, and it’s what gives this soup it’s great cheesy flavor, color, and smoothness.  Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!  As for the beer component, I normally use Budweiser, but you can use any regular beer you’d like.  Just stick to beers that are not too light and not very heavy and dark.

If you love cheese, you will really love this soup.  The beer gives it a nice depth of flavor, and the addition of the Tabasco, gives it the perfect little hint of heat.  It is a smooth, velvety soup that is great served in a bread bowl as a meal or on its own for an appetizer.  Serve it with Texas Toast or some plain toast points.   However you choose to serve it – you and your guests will love it!

Unfortunately, the 56th Fighter Group Restaurant closed its doors permanently.  But I can still hold onto a piece of it with this delicious recipe!  Enjoy!

Beer Cheese Soup

6 cups milk, divided
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, more if desired
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 slice bacon, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
4 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 jar (16 ounce size) Cheez Whiz
1 can (12 ounce size) beer

  1. Combine 5 2/3 cups milk, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauces in a large pot.  Stir to combine well.
  2. In a heavy skillet, saute bacon until crisp.  Pour off half of the fat.  Add onions, stir and cook until wilted.  Add children bouillon and cook, stirring 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add bacon mixture to milk mixture and heat over medium heat.  When milk begins to steam (about 180 degrees F), combine cornstarch and remaining 1/3 cup milk.  Mix well, until smooth.  Add mixture to hot milk mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until soup thickens.
  4. Add Cheez Whiz stirring almost constantly.  Stir in beer.  Mix well together.
  5. Straight through a mesh strainer into a large bowl to remove the onion and bacon pieces.  Reheat if necessary.

Recipe courtesy of cdkitchen.com and 97th Aero Squadron Restaurant.