Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guinness and Onion Soup with an Irish Cheddar Crouton

"Cooking for me is all about family and friends, the earth, and its harvests. That’s what inspires me to cook. Entertaining should be fun for both you and your guests." This quote is from Michael Chiarello, a chef in Napa Valley, California and star of Food Network's Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello.

I couldn't agree more! Recently I caught one of Michael's episodes on Food Network where he made a few Irish dishes including this onion soup that was just too hard for me to resist. With the weather getting chilly in Austin, this warm soup was exactly what we needed to warm us up. The best part is that the onion soup got better after sitting in the fridge. We've been eating - or slurping - our way through this batch of soup for a week now and it is still very very good! With the hot broth and caramalized onions on bottom and crusty bread and creamy cheese on top - this is a must slurp soup ya'll!

Here is what you need:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves minced garlic
1 minced shallot
8 cups thinly sliced onions – 2.5 yellow onions
Gray salt (I used sea salt)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (I used a dry sherry)
1 1/2 cups dark beer (recommended: Guinness)
6 cups beef stock
6 slices country bread cut 1/2-inch thick, toasted
1/2 pound Irish Cheddar, sliced thin (I used havarti and american cheddar)

It took me two and a half yellow onions to get 8 cups sliced.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. I'm using my RR dutch oven. Have you noticed I use this pot for everything? It's awesome! Good thing the lime green matches my kitchen, it's practically always sitting out on the stove.
Here is my one shallot, peeled and ready to chop.

Add garlic and shallot to hot olive oil and cook briefly to release aroma, about five seconds.

Add onions, season with salt and cook for about 5 minutes stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden brown.
My onions never turned brown, just a more translucent yellow even though I cooked them on low and stirred for a total of 20 minutes.
Fresh thyme is a very interesting and distinct flavor. I really liked the way it flavored this soup. The branch is really thick on thyme and all we want are the leaves.

Hold the thyme sprig at the top with one hand (I'm right handed, so I hold it in my left hand at the top.)

Then with your right hand run your thumb and pointer finger down the stem and the leaves fall off easily.

Now let's measure the Guinness beer.

This is a thick dark beer, Guinness draught in a can. We need 1.5 cups.

To the onions we add the chopped fresh thyme.

Now add the beer and the vinegar (or dry sherry).

Now that the Guinness beer can is empty I have to find out what is rolling around inside. Like a cracker jack box I cut the can open and found this little platic ball inside.

Turn heat to medium low and simmer until beer is reduced by half.

Once reduced, add the beef stock and bring to a simmer to cook for 10 more minutes.

Finally! I ladle soup into oven proof bowls and preheat the broiler.

The recipe calls for Irish cheddar. I'm using a thick slice of havarti and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

You could use any sort of bread here, I put the heel of whole wheat bread in the oven to toast first.

Top the soup bowl with your toasted bread and cheese.

Broil until cheese melts and starts to brown slightly.

This is perfect. Be sure to place your bowls on a cookie sheet when you place in the oven, it could get messy.

But messy is GOOD!

Now we dig in.

I would guess that a pint of Guinness would be most appropriate with this soup but Jim and I chose a ZD Cab.

This Napa wine we chose does tie back to Michael Chiarello of Napa Style!


  1. This looks super tasty...and perfect for a cold day!

    We just got a shipment of Waugh and it made me think of you:)

    Happy Holidays!

  2. That looks super good! I think I"ll make it tonight. I'm on a soup kick this week since I"ve got a head cold. Perfect timing.

    Also - I had no idea there was a ball in the guiness can. Learn something new every day!

  3. Tara - Hey girl! We are expecting our shippment any day now, can't wait! I still want to buy your Six Degrees Tara!

    Lisa - So sorry to hear you are feeling under the weather. I hope this soup makes you feel better.

  4. This sounds so good. I have a dear friend who LOVES onion soup. I think I'll try this out on her for our New Year's party.

  5. I WILL MAKE THIS SOUP!! This is one of my fav's!!!

  6. What on earth is the beer pong ball doing in the can of Guinness? This is going to bug me to no end. I'll go grab some Guinness at lunch so I can make this tonight, it looks way too tempting.

  7. Oh Mandy! I LOVE Guiness...this soup looks fantastic! And that is so funny you opened the can, I don't know why I've never done that! I have always been curious to what the "widget" looked like!

  8. I made this soup for my family last night and it was a big hit! It was super tasty and really easy!


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