Traditional French Onion soup uses white wine with beef stock. Whatever, fancy French cooks. I am more of a “what’s in the fridge” sort of cook. I’ve made this recipe with white wine, red wine and beer.
BUT, any old beer won’t work for this recipe. Avoid hoppy IPAs and lighter beers. You want to use a beer with a nice robust flavor like a porter or a stout that will impart a lot of flavor the soup.
Getting the hang of caramelizing onions takes a few tries and a ton of patience. I couldn’t wrap my head around how long it really took to get the onions to break down. So if it’s your first try at French onion soup, be patient. This is going to take a while and you can’t walk away from the pot for too long or you’ll end up with burnt onions which are inedible.
White or yellow onions work best for caramelizing. I use a mandolin to slice them as thinly as possible. It makes the process go a little faster.
Choose Your Booze French Onion Soup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs yellow onions
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 4 cups beef stock
- 12 oz beer of your choice
- Cubed bread, toasted
- 1/2 lb shredded Gruyere cheese
- Minced fresh thyme for garnish
In a large soup pot with a lid, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. While the butter and olive oil melt, slice the onions with a mandolin or use sharp knife so your onions are as thin as possible. Add the onions to the butter and olive oil and stir to coat. Cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
Stir the onions and cover again for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and add the sugar and salt and raise the heat to medium-high. Continue cooking, stirring more frequently. Once the onions are a deep brown color and start sticking to the pot, reduce the heat to medium low. Sprinkle in the flour and cook 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 cup of beef stock to deglaze the pot, scraping up the onions and brown bits stuck to the pot. Stir in the remaining stock, add in the alcohol and turn the heat to low. Cover the pot again and let the soup simmer for at least 30 minutes to combine the flavors.
While the soup is simmering, heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the bread into cubes and spread out on a sheet pan covered with foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast the cubes in the oven until golden about 5-8 minutes.
Place the bread cubes in oven safe soup bowls. Ladle the soup onto the bread cubes and top with a generous amount of shredded cheese. Set onto a sheet pan covered in foil and bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned to your liking. Let cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy!
Tamre Mullins, shown, is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server from Indianapolis, Ind . She has spent the last 12 years as an advocate for the craft beer industry. Tamre shares her knowledge through volunteering for breweries, teaching classes and writing for various craft beer publications around the country. Read more about beer, food and life from Tamre at tamremullins.com.
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