½ pound piece of slab bacon, sliced
⅓ inch thick and cut into ⅓ inch dice
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 TB chopped thyme
One 12-ounce bottle lager or pilsner
About 2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 TB unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
½ pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Garlic-rubbed toasts, for serving
STEP 1: In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl. Add the celery, onion, jalapeno, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add 2 ¼ cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
STEP 2: In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk this roux into the soup until incorporated and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth if the soup is too thick. Serve the soup with garlic toasts.
MAKE AHEAD: The cheddar soup can be refrigerated overnight. Rewarm gently and thin with additional broth.