I love love love me some French Onion Soup! It’s just a beautiful thing and I fell in love with at my first bite, decades ago! For St. Patrick’s day, though, I wanted to change things up. I’ve been dying to try out one of the Guinness & Onion Soups I’ve seen floating around. How could I resist, really? Deep, rich Guinness flavor, caramelized onions, and then there is that toasty, melty broiled Cheddar Cheese Crouton floating on top.
I gotta tell ya, I have a Classic French Onion Soup recipe already on my site. It’s based on Cook’s Illustrated method of making the caramelized onions in the oven, and it is out of this world fantastic! It’s one of the early recipes on my site, and still one of my faves. It’s due for an update, though…there was a time when I thought that people wanted to see how recipes REALLY look like when you make them at home; I thought to show the pic of the bowl that had the slightly burnt edges on the crouton was keeping it real. Maybe too real, lol!
About Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton:
The pics on this Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton could use an update, too, so don’t let that deter you from making one of the best Guinness & Onion Soups you’ll ever make! See, even though I’ve been making French Onion Soup since I was in my early 20’s (almost 40 years) and my Beef & Guinness Stew for 20 years or so, I had to pull out every trick and tip I knew to combine the two!
See, honestly, it’s no small feat to make a really great French Onion Soup. It takes a lot of work, even using a kitchen slicer for the onions, and a lot of time and attention to get really great caramelized onions cooked to butter, sweet, almost sticky deliciousness. And you can’t just dump some rich, bitter Guinness in it and call it a day. Guinness has a bitterness that has to be dealt with!
I hope I haven’t discouraged you with my dire warnings, but stick with me and you are gonna be rewarded with an absolutely glorious concoction that rides that fine line between the sweet richness of those caramelized onions and the slight bitterness of the Guinness; a soup that balances so closely neither sweet or bitter is detected. And that Cheddar crouton, made with white Cheddar, melted and browned on that crouton, broiled to perfection tops it all. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
Making Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton:
The first tip I learned is that just like with French Onions Soup, this Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton is great the first day, but better when made the day before you’re serving it. Something kind of magical happens and the flavors blend and smooth out – since the recipe takes a while to make it’s nice to knock it out ahead.
You really need to take your time caramelizing those onions, and I have three different recipes to choose from, all on this post, Caramelized Onions Three Ways. People say it can be done in 20 or 30 minutes. They lie. Those are onions that are slightly browned, not caramelized.
Let’s talk about that Guinness. You’re going to want to Guinness Draught and not the newer Guinness Extra Stout, and let it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the soup. You’ll get a deep stouty flavor but you risk a bit of bitterness, so counteract that with just the faintest touch of sumpin’ sweet to balance that. The barest whisper of sugar or just a touch of dark jam does the job, jam preferred, and a black currant is my fave to use. You won’t taste it but it’s transformative!
And that brings us to another potential pitfall of any French Onion Soup made from store brought broth – that broth has got to be a good one or you just won’t like the soup that much. I like to use a combo of beef and a little chicken stock. I just think it tastes better. Or go with the stocks recommended in the recipe. Make sure you taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and what you used for sweet! The Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton will taste a bit different with different stocks, and that affects the balance of all the flavors.
Saving Money on Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton:
Check out my Savings on St. Patrick’s Day, which has a few ideas on how to save on some of these items. Shop well for your onions. I’ve had great luck at finding big beautiful onions at a great price at Costco (bigger onions are easier to deal with while cutting) and ok onions at Aldi. Check the mesh bag carefully, some are not the best. At the store, check the bulk vs. the bagged onions.
The stock or soup is the greater cost in the recipe. I normally stock up when it’s on sale during the Winter holidays, but I’ve had good luck with Aldi and Costco stock. Their prices don’t even touch grocery store stocks, though when they’re on sale.
If you don’t want to spring for an Irish Cheddar (I’ve seen it at Costco) Aldi has a decent white Cheddar and even the grocery stores these days have white Cheddar that’s pretty good. A great French baguette is great as a crouton but your grocery store take and bake (or Aldi’s) work very nicely.
Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton
- 3 pounds raw onion, caramelized, along with any juices from the process (see note)
- 1/4 cup brandy Irish Whiskey (or any whiskey or bourbon)
- 1 cup Guinness, poured into a glass and allowed to sit for three to five minutes
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth (see note)
- 2 cups low sodium beef broth (see note)
- 2 cups of water
- 6 sprigs thyme, or about 1/2 teaspoon dried
- salt and pepper
- around a teaspoon (to taste) of dark jam or 1/2 teaspoon (to taste) sugar
- 1/2 inch slices of baguette, 6 total
- 6 slices (enough to cover the top of the bowl) Irish Cheddar or other good meltable cheese.
For the soup:
Add caramelized onions and any juices from the process to a large Dutch oven or pan. Add Whiskey or Bourbon, heat through. Ignite if you feel comfortable and allow to burn down.
Stir in Guinness and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by half, about 3 or 4 minutes.
Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper. Taste for bitterness and add jam or sugar to taste.
For the croutons:
While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup, leaving enough room at the top for the croutons. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and cover with thinly sliced cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
- There are three processes on my site to caramelize onions. The baked onions on my French Onion Soup, Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions and this Stovetop Method.
- Cook’s Illustrated suggests using Swanson Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth and Pacific Beef Broth – I’ve had very good results with the Aldi brand in a box. We like it better than Swanson.
- If you like a thicker body to your soup, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the caramelized onion, cook a minute or two, then add your whiskey or bourbon
You know I’ll be bringing Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton to our Throwback Thursday #29 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me!
Click over to our Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!
I’ll also be bringing Guinness & Onion Soup with a Cheddar Crouton to Fiesta Friday 111 hosted by Angie and cohosted this week by Naina @ Spice in the City and Julianna @ Foodie On Board, as well as Freedom Fridays, What’s Cooking Wednesdays & Weekend Potluck.