how to embrace autumn: the art of pairing hot soups with cold alcoholic beverages

November 1, 2008 | add comment

Originally published in WestView

The sun is creeping behind the Hudson all too soon. Trees stand almost naked, embarrassed as their leaves crack underfoot. Winter is near.

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret—one that will help you enjoy autumn and prepare for the cold. I refer to the fine art of pairing piping hot soups with cold alcoholic beverages.

This combination leaves one feeling toasty warm and slightly buzzed. And suddenly the telltale signs of Jack Frost don’t seem so bad. He might even look cute in that oversized wool cap.

There’s something almost hypnotic about following a spoonful of lobster bisque with a swig of Guinness. The steamy broth is chased by an arctic tidal wave of hops and barley.

Now don’t think you can just grab a can of Campbell’s and a Miller Light. As I said, this is an art—one that will require practice and perseverance. But I have faith in you, and I’ve created a game to help. Before long, you too will be a connoisseur of coupling soup with the appropriate tipple.

Match each soup with the most enticing and complimentary beverage:

SOUPS
1. Garlic Soup
2. Tomato Barley Soup
3. Chicken Tortilla Soup
4. French Onion Soup
5. Ramen Noodles
6. Turkey Chili
7. Chicken Noodle Soup

DRINKS
a. Stella Artois
b. Miller
c. Sauvignon Blanc
d. Calvados on the Rocks
e. Asahi
f. Pilsner Urquell
g. Hatuey

Ready for the answers?

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Garlic Soup
When I first was told about garlic soup, I envisioned despondent vampires conversing over tea. This amazing broth dish, full of large, homemade croutons, is common in the Czech Republic. I find it goes best with a frosty mug of Pilsner Urquell, which, by the way, is cheaper (and tastier) in Prague than Coca-Cola.

Tomato Barley Soup
This is the perfect answer to those vicious afternoons when the wind slaps you across the face. It’s one of the few soups I prefer with wine. A light, crisp sauvignon blanc is a lovely choice for this hearty, healthy dish.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
To bring out this soup’s hint of lime, I recommend Hatuey, named after an Indian chief who helped fight for Cuba’s independence from Spain. It was first sold with free blocks of ice so that it remained chilled.

French Onion Soup
When done well, with onions caramelized to perfection, French onion soup is tough to beat. My one complaint is how the cheese clings to the spoon, transforming into a piping hot gruyere lollipop! Worse yet is how it dangles between mouth and spoon like a tightrope. My beer of choice here is Stella Artois. The golden lager makes for a refreshing balance to this satisfying dish.

Ramen Noodles
Ditch the microwavable packets and head over to Kenka in the East Village. My companion here is a tall bottle of Asahi Super Dry. Yeast is particularly important in this brew, as its role in separating sugar (into alcohol and carbon dioxide) leads to a super dry beer.

Turkey Chili
A bowl of turkey chili is most at home with a Miller or a Pabst. The lack of pretense behind these Milwaukee beers jives with this comforting dish. Plus, these brews are on the lighter side, should you want seconds.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Okay, trick question. Nobody I know even drinks Calvados on the rocks. Besides, this is the go-to soup if you’re under the weather. If that’s the case, replace French apple brandy with apple juice. The sniffles will subside in no time.

Whatever your soup of choice, I hope there’s an aptly chosen cold mug alongside it.  Cheers, kampai, salud…to autumn.

Answer Key: 1.(f), 2.(c), 3.(g), 4.(a), 5.(e), 6.(b), 7.(d)

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