Happy St Patrick’s Day (almost)! For this year’s post I decided to go with something only slightly “lighter” than your traditional, potato-laden Irish fare. Not that there’s anything wrong with a potato-laden diet. I’m a big fan of the potato. Yes, I know that Irish food is more than just colcannon, cottage pie and bangers and mash and that modern Irish chefs are doing amazing things with lots more than just potatoes. New Irish cuisine can be light and fresh. I hope this soup straddles the line between tradition and modern.
So, what’s Irish onion soup, you ask? Yep, it’s just what you think it is. It’s basically French onion soup with some Irish whiskey (I used Jameson) and Guinness added in to create a more complex flavor profile. Oh, and what’s an Irish soup without some lovely Irish cheddar? A mistake in my opinion. So eat up (and drink up) and enjoy your St Patrick’s Day. After all, it’s the one day of the year when we’re all Irish.
Irish Onion Soup
- 3 large, sweet onions, sliced thinly
- 3 T Irish butter, such as Kerrygold
- 2 t salt
- 1 T sugar
- ¼ cup Irish Whisky, such as Jameson or Bushmill’s
- 2 T flour
- 1 cup Guinness
- 6 cups unsalted beef stock
- 2 t freshly cracked black pepper
- Day old ciabatta bread, sliced in ½” slices
- 6 oz sharp Irish cheddar, such as Dubliner, grated
Melt butter in the bottom of a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, salt and sugar. Stir to coat. Cook onions over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 20-25 minutes until onions are caramelized and brown, but not burned. TURN OFF HEAT, REMOVE POT FROM HEAT. Very carefully, add whiskey. Stir to combine. Return pot to burner and restart heat at medium level. If you are using a gas flame, be careful as alcohol may combust. If it does, just let it burn out, then when flame is gone continue stirring. After whiskey has been incorporated, add the flour and stir well. Let cook 2-3 minutes to allow the flour to absorb. Pour in the Guinness, stir well until thickened. Add in beef stock, stir. Let simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes to allow flavors to combine. While soup is simmering, prepare bread.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with melted Irish butter or olive oil. Place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, flip each piece over. Return baking sheet to oven, bake another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
After soup has simmered and toasts have been made, ladle soup into oven-proof bowls. Top each bowl with toast, breaking them if you need to make them fit. Top each bread with grated cheddar. Place under broiler until cheese is melty and slightly browned. Carefully remove from oven and serve (bowls will be HOT!). Serve with Irish soda bread.