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Guinness Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Toast Points

A deliciously savory soup loaded with caramelized onions, flavored-boosted with stout and topped with cheesy toast points, Guinness Onion Soup is the perfect appetizer soup or a light entree with a green salad.

Three bowls of Guinness Onion Soup topped with Irish Cheddar toast points

Onion soup might not sound like something that’s fit for the winding down of winter, but I actually think it’s perfect timing. And not just because there’s a healthy dose of Guinness, to embrace St. Patrick’s Day next week.

French onion soup has its cozy charms, for sure. But its lure — let’s be honest — is that thick cap of aged cheese atop a crusty slab of French bread in a roomy, single-serve, oven-safe crock. All shoved under the broiler until melty.

But, I don’t have roomy, single-serve, oven-safe crocks. And I’m the weirdo who doesn’t really care to futz with strings of melted cheese that pull off the soup and go everywhere except where I want them to be (e.g., in my mouth). It’s true: I struggle with pools of melted cheese, lol.

Guinness Onion Soup in a white Dutch oven, wooden spoon on the side

Or maybe I’m just an onion soup purist, because I’m a huge fan of this ^^^ straight up caramelized onion soup, in a normal bowl that hasn’t been molten-heated by the oven. The soup gets some unexpected depth from a big pour of Guinness, which cooks down to rich goodness.

Caramelizing Onions

Speaking of … let’s talk about those caramelized onions for a sec. They make or break this soup, truly they do. And the key is this: No matter that certain fancy magazines and over-eager food writers might claim otherwise, you cannot caramelize onions in 15 minutes.

You can absolutely brown onions in 15 minutes, but what you’re looking at there is a form of burning. The edges of each onion piece will be brown, the interiors white or yellow, translucent, undercooked. IOW, not caramelized.

Caramelized onions are sweet and jammy and monochrome. One taste, and you’ll believe you’d be just as happy spreading them on a bagel with bacon and cream cheese as you would transforming them into soup.

But here’s the thing: Caramelized onions take 45 minutes. 60 minutes. Sometimes even more, depending on how juicy the onions were at the start. Drawing out the natural sugars of an onion requires slowly cooking off the liquids within at a fairly low temperature. Patience, Grasshopper.

Three bowls of Guinness Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar toast points, with bread on the side

So, while the onions are doing their slo-mo caramelizing thing, you’re free to direct your attention elsewhere.

And yes, sure, okay, I’ll admit: I do like bread in my soup. Bite-sized croutons. Not a slab of hard, crusty baguette, but spoon-manageable little toast points. And, yes, a little melty cheese on those toasty bits is a thing of beauty. Sharp Irish cheddar for me, thank you, just a little. But not scorched in the soup. Just placed on top, ready to eat. Plenty of time to bake them up while the onions cook.

And that’s my idea of the perfect onion soup. I enjoy this recipe as an appetizer soup, alongside a light meal or a big green salad.

Oh, and I don’t know if you can tell in the photos, but I topped my cheesy toast points with big pinches of my quick-and-easy frizzled shallots, for a nice little cripsy crunch.

Karen xo

Guinness Onion Soup with Irish Cheddar Toast Points
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Guinness Onion Soup

A deliciously savory soup that's flavored boosted with Guinness Beer. Create cheesy toast points to top the soup, instead of broiling cheese and croutons.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: onion soup
Servings: 4
Calories: 250kcal
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • 2 large onions sliced into quarter moons
  • 1 large shallot thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Guinness
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cheese toast points

  • 1 baguette sliced into 2" diamonds or triangles
  • 4 ounces grated Irish Cheddar Cheese

Instructions

For the soup:

  • Heat the fats in a 4 qt Dutch oven over medium until melted and shimmering.
  • Add the onions and shallots and stir thoroughly, mixing up from the bottom so all of the rings get a touch of the oil.
  • Stir the onions frequently, using a spatula to lift up from the bottom to ensure everything's moving around. After 10 minutes, the onions should be softening and glossy.
  • Reduce heat to low/medium. Sprinkle the onions with a big pinch of sugar.
  • Continue cooking. At 30 minutes, they should be yellowing, but not really darkening, and reduced in volume by half. Note that the onions should take on color evenly: if any edges are starting to brown, reduce heat, and stir more frequently.
  • As you reach the hour mark, you'll notice that the onions will begin sticking to the pan as the last of their moisture evaporates away. Stir frequently - caramelization will begin in earnest, and you should notice a more rapid darkening.
  • When the onions are nice and evenly golden brown*, top with a pinch of salt pour in the Guinness. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer to cook off the alcohol (or, if you're brave, flambe it).
  • Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until they thicken slightly, then pour in the broth along with the Better than Bouillon and dried thyme.
  • Increase heat to bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired.

For the cheesy toast points**:

  • While the onions are cooking, turn on the broiler to low, and position the top rack about 6 inches away from the heating elements.
  • Place the toast points on a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Top each point with a big pinch of grated cheese.
  • Broil until the cheese is melted. Remove and set aside.

Serve:

  • Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Add a big pinch of grated cheese to the center of the bowls, and then top with however many toast points will fit into the bowl.

Notes

* Some onions won't turn dark brown when caramelized. Instead, pay attention to the texture of the onions. When they're golden and tender — almost jammy — they're ready.
** The purpose of this process is to avoid having to put your soup bowls under the broiler to melt the cheese. If you have broiler-safe dishes, you can top the bowls of soup with the bread, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and broil until melty.

Nutrition

Calories: 250kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

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Guinness Onion Soup - Recipe at SoupAddict.com Guinness Onion Soup - Recipe at SoupAddict.com

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Recipe Rating




Rocky Mountain Woman

Thursday 21st of March 2019

This looks wonderful ! I'm with you on carmelized onions, if you're going to the trouble to make onion soup, plan on letting them simmer for at least an hour. I'm going to try this next time I have a hankering for onion soup.

SoupAddict

Sunday 24th of March 2019

It makes me a bit ragey when food writers tell cooks you can caramelize onions in 10 minutes. I get that peeps don't want to wait an hour, but food writers and recipe developers need to at least be the truth tellers about such things. ;)

ME Bledsoe

Monday 11th of March 2019

Sadly, this soup was bitter on the front end, with a bitter aftertaste. I used all my tricks to counter the bitterness - a little lemon juice, a little sugar, even a little carrot shredded in. In the end it was edible, but won’t be on my repeat list. I’ll stick to onion soup without Guinness.

SoupAddict

Tuesday 12th of March 2019

I appreciate your feedback, and have reduced the amount of beer in the recipe to better balance the beery notes.

Linger

Monday 11th of March 2019

OH WOW!! What a fabulous recipe. And I love your photos. That aged cheese and French piece of bread has my mouth drooling right now, Thanks so much for sharing.