March 14, 2011

Guinness and Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Crouton

Ever since I can remember, I've had an affinity for onions. Even as a kid I would ask for onion rings to go with my "happy meals" instead of french fries. The trick was biting through them without pulling out the entire onion from its crunchy coating.
As much as I love onions, it's a challenge convincing the Kiwi to eat them. In preparation for his permanent return, I thought I'd give this a try. Soft and sweet caramelized onions in a beef broth covered in gooey messy cheese? I think he'll go for it. This recipe would also be great for St. Patrick's Day. A welcome change from the traditional corned beef since I'm only feeding one here and I certainly don't need 3 pounds of leftovers. 

Guinness and Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Crouton adapted from Michael Chiarello
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups thinly sliced onions
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 sherry or balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups Guinness beer
6 cups beef stock
6 slices country bread, cut 1/2 inch thick, toasted
1/2 pound Irish cheddar, sliced thin

Measure out your beer(I halved the recipe) and let sit until you need it. 
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add sliced onions, garlic, and salt then caramelize until golden brown over medium-high heat. Add a spoonful of broth if you find the bottom of the pan getting dark and the onions staying white. Caramelization will take 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. 
Add the sugar, thyme, bay leaf, and balsamic or sherry vinegar. Let the vinegar cook down about a minute then add the Guinness. Reduce liquid by half by simmering for 5-6 minutes. Add the beef stock and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. 
When ready to serve, turn on your oven's broiler. Divide soup into bowls and top with a slice of toast and as much cheese as you can handle.
*Note if you fill your bowls all the way to the top, first place them on a baking sheet just in case they bubble over.
 Broil until the cheese melts and begins to turn golden brown. Watch those bowls carefully, that broiler is HOT. Let cool for a few minutes then dive in!
Serves 6.

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