French Onion Soup + Beer
It finally cooled down in Texas. After months of record setting heat, the temperature fell below the 90 degree mark. I rejoiced and made French Onion Soup, one of my all time favorite dishes. While it wasn’t technically cold outside, it was technically Autumn and soup made the season feel a little bit more real.
Traditionally, this simple dish is made with little more than onions, water, and stale bread. There is no broth. For this recipe, I’m no purist. I go half vegetable stock, half beef stock. I find it gives the dish a bit more depth. There’s also the argument of sherry vs. wine vs. brandy vs. any other number of liquors to deglaze the pan. I seldom have any of those on hand and let’s face it, beer makes everything better. So, I swapped the alcohol for leftover scottish ale wort, but a porter, stout, or just about any other dark ale will do the trick. Try to find one with a dry, roasted flavor.
- 6 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
- 8 cups stock or water
- red or white or sherry vinegar
- 1/2 -3/4 cup dark beer or wort
- 3 tbs butter
- 1 tbs canola or vegetable oil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of thyme, tied together
- 3 tbs all purpose flour
- several slices of dried/stale baguette
- a lot of grated swiss or gruyere cheese (~1 1/2 – 2 cups)
- Melt the butter and oil together in a thick bottomed saucepan or a dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the onions.
- Saute on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned (not burnt). This may take awhile, about 30-40 minutes. Don’t rush the process! This is what will build most of the flavor.
- Sprinkle the sugar over the onions; stir. Cook an additional 15 minutes, the onions should be on their way to caramelized deliciousness. Don’t be afraid of any browning on the bottom of the pan!
- Turn the heat to low. Add the garlic and sprinkle the flour over the onions; cook for 3 minutes.
- Time to deglaze! Pour in half of the beer and scrap up the goodness from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the additional beer and ensure the pan has been fully deglazed.
- Add the vinegar, thyme, and bayleaves; stir. Add the stock/water.
- Bring the mixture up to a simmer, cover slightly, and leave alone for 30 minutes.
- Remove the thyme and bay leaves; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- This dish will tastes worlds better tomorrow. If you have the self control, place the cover back on the pan and stash in the refrigerator to eat 24 hours later. Or make enough so that you have some leftovers. You’ll be glad that you did..
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Ladle the soup into oven proof dishes and place on sheet pan.
- Sprinkle cheese onto the onion soup (but only if you’re like me and really like cheese).
- Place baguette slices on top of the soup.
- Top with even more cheese.
- Place in the onion and bake until the cheese begins bubbling and is slightly browned.
- Top with chopped thyme leaves (it looks pretty…)
- Get ready to have your soul warmed.