Guinness French Onion Soup
Today, we’re making Guinness French Onion Soup!
This recipe is classic with a twist. We’re taking those same rich and beefy flavors that we know and love about French onion soup. But, we’re enhancing the richness with the addition of stout beer. And, we’re revitalizing that cheesy crouton that tops the soup by adding a little Irish cheddar into the mix.
If you think that sounds amazingly delicious, you’re right! So, let’s get to it!
This recipe starts with onions. Lots and lots of onions. Roughly 2 pounds of onions. We’re going to slice those onions up, then cook them low and slow in some butter and olive oil until they become soft and creamy and light golden brown in color. Now, I always season my onions with salt, pepper, and brown sugar before caramelizing them; because the salt helps to draw out some of the moisture while flavoring the onions, and the brown sugar helps to highlight the natural sweetness of the onions. So, of course, that’s what we’re going to do here, as well.
Once the onions are nice and golden, we’ll add in a little garlic for extra pizazz. And, we’ll let that cook for a minute or so until it’s nice and fragrant. And, that’s basically the hardest part of this recipe!
Next up, we add in our liquid and additional flavoring components, and the soup can be left to do its own thing to simmer away. So to the pot, we’re going to add a quart and a half of unsalted beef stock, a bottle of Guinness stout, a splash of worcestershire sauce, and some thyme and a bay leaf. Now, here’s the most important part of this step. We have to let the soup come to a simmer slowly. We can’t rush things along by increasing the heat, because we risk angering the stout if we do that. And, if we cook that beer at a higher temp than it likes, it will get bitter. And, nobody wants to eat bitter soup. So, though it takes some extra patience, let the soup do its thing in its own time. Plus, the extra time spent together waiting for the soup to simmer is more time that the flavors have to meet and develop.
When the soup has finishing simmering away, it’s time to work on the crouton. In my humble opinion, that onion broth soaked bread and gooey, slightly crispy cheese on the top is the absolute best part of the soup. Traditionally, this soup would be topped with some thick cut, toasted baguette. But, since we’re giving this soup some Irish inspired vibes, we’re going to use a nice slice of sourdough bread. We’ll toast the bread in the oven for a couple minutes to help dry it out a bit. Then, we’ll plop it right on top of each bowl of soup, and smother it with a cheese mix of Irish cheddar and gruyere cheeses. Then, to the broiler it goes so that cheese can get bubbly and golden. And, it’s time to eat!
This soup…wow. There is sooooo much flavor coming from these simple and modest ingredients. The onions and herbs permeate that beefy stock creating a rich and comforting flavor explosion. The stout beer adds a malty zing to the broth that’s not overpowering, but adds a nice embellishment to the soup. Then, we get a mix of sharp and nutty ooey gooeiness thanks to the blend of cheeses broiled on top of the soup. And truly, this is comfort food at its absolute best.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and send winter packing than with this incredible bowl of deliciousness!
I hope you guys enjoy. Stay warm. And, let’s eat!
Guinness French Onion Soup
- 4 tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 medium yellow onions, cut in half and thinly sliced (about 2 lbs)
- ½ tsp + ½ tsp salt, divided; plus more, to taste
- ¼ tsp + ¼ tsp pepper, divided
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups unsalted beef stock
- 1 bottle (12 oz) Guinness stout
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 slices thick cut sourdough bread
- 4 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
- 4 oz Irish cheddar, shredded
- Prepare the onions: In a dutch oven, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and brown sugar; and stir to combine. Cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are light golden brown. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add beef stock, Guinness, worcestershire, thyme, bay leaf, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper to the softened onions, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to pull up any browned bits. Stir to combine. With the heat still at medium, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add another pinch of salt, if necessary. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the pot.
- Make the crouton: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut bread in half to fit the size of your soup crock, and place on a sheet pan. Bake for 5 mins. Flip, and place back in the oven for 5 more mins. Increase oven temperature to broil, and position top rack to 6 inches from the heating element.
- Divide soup between 4 oven safe crocks or bowls arranged on a baking sheet. Place toasted bread on top of soup. Mix gruyere and Irish cheddar together, and top the croutons with cheese mix evenly divided between the bowls. Place under the broiler for 5-6 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and melted and just starting to brown. Serve immediately.
- *If you're not eating this all at once, store the soup in the fridge without the crouton. Wait to make the crouton and broil the cheese on top until you're ready to serve it.
- *Different brands of beef stock contain different levels of sodium content (even though we're using unsalted), so the amount of salt needed to finish the soup will be totally according to your tastebuds. I used Kitchen Basics beef stock, and I added about ¼ tsp more salt at the end.
- *Though it requires a little patience, we don't want to rush bringing the soup to a boil by raising the temperature on the pot. The Guinness is at risk of becoming bitter if we cook it at too high of a heat, so medium heat is the highest we'll want to heat the pot.
- *When buying your beer, be careful not to get extra stout. That will definitely get bitter in the soup. Stick to Guinness Stout Draught.
Can you leave out the stout?
Can lager be used instead of stout? Thank you,