Onion and Ale Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons from Fine Cooking Magazine, February/March 2013

My husband loves the classic rock group, Rush. The kind of love that is counted via multiple concert ticket stubs, the ownership of every CD and DVD and the level of hearing loss from listening to their music too loudly over a span of many years.

I think Rush sounds like a cat with its tail caught in the refrigerator door. At least, for me, that’s what Geddy Lee reminds me of. His high, nasal voice makes me cringe. It’s my nails on a chalkboard torture.

At some point during the day, Hubby will read this. Even though he’s 45 miles away, I’ll be able to feel his temperature rise and righteous indignation set in.

He can’t understand why I don’t even like Rush even a little bit. He’s done everything but create a presentation complete with pie charts and spreadsheets to try and get me to join in his Rush-love fest. It’s just not gonna happen.

You know what that’s like, don’t you? There are those things that you and your spouse just don’t see eye-to-eye on. They’re not earth shattering or relationship rending. They’re just the little things that are like hangnails. You don’t think about them until they snag on something.

That’s why when I make French onion soup, I make it when I’m alone. Dudette’s on an anti-onion kick. Hubby, he just doesn’t care for it.  I’m a huge fan.

You see, if I made the soup while Hubby was home, I’d try to get him to taste it. I’d make a case for the sweetness of the caramelized onions and gloriousness of the rich broth. And he’d say that it’s just not gonna happen.

That’s why I made this while he was at work.

The Process

Cooking the onions properly is the key to a good onion soup. First, they need space. If the sliced onions are too crowded, they’ll steam instead of caramelizing. Second, they need time, which means they need a low temperature so they don’t burn.

The rest of the soup preparation is easy, but you’ll need to make this when you’re willing to stick around your kitchen so you can babysit the cooking onions. They like to be pampered and crave attention; and a good stir every few minutes.

The bread cubes are easy to make since they’re just a matter of toasting them after tossing them with olive oil. I did find that the cheese crumbled that were more flattened melted out over the croutons better than the lumpier bits.

The Verdict

A fellow onion soup lover joined me for lunch and like her, my first word after my first bite was, ‘Wow.’ This dish is delicious. The light bitterness of the ale offsets the sweetness of the onions. The blue cheese is a phenomenal addition. It bought the whole thing together. While I sad that Hubby wouldn’t get to taste the yumminess we were enjoying, I was happy that I wouldn’t have to share the leftover.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I really like the richness that sautéing onions in butter gives. Next time I’d use the olive oil for the croutons but I’d definitely swap two tablespoons of butter for the oil when cooking the onions.

Onion and Ale Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons from Fine Cooking Magazine, February/March 2013
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ lb yellow onions (about 3 medium), halved through the root and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • ½ cup pale ale, such as Saranac or Sierra Nevada
  • 2½ cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1½ cups lower-salt beef broth
  • 7 ounces sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (5 cups)
  • 4½ ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425F.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium. Cook without stirring until the bottom of the pot begins to brown, 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and stir with a wooden spatula. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot frequently and adjusting the heat as necessary, until the onions are well browned, 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add th eale and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and cook at a vigorous simmer until all but a thin layer of the ale has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and beef broths and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  4. Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread cubes with the remaining two tablespoons olive oil. Spread the bread in a single layer and bake until golden, 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven, push the bread cubes closely together, and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  5. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the croutons and a sprinkling of the chives.
What I'd Do Different Next Time
I really like the richness that sautéing onions in butter gives. Next time I'd use the olive oil for the croutons but I'd definitely swap two tablespoons of butter for the oil when cooking the onions.


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21 Responses to Onion and Ale Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons from Fine Cooking Magazine, February/March 2013

  1. krimkus says:

    This looks fantastic. Anything with blue cheese tops my list!

  2. Ramona says:

    LOL.. Rush. :) I think I like their music too… but I don't know any of their songs off the top of my head. My favorite groups from back in the day are Journey, Air Supply, Eagles… :) Now this is a very rich and hearty soup. I'm not a blue cheese fan… I would have to swap the cheese on the croutons. :) My hubby would love this soup… but his taste in music is worse. He used to like heavy metal. Urgh!

  3. I love onion soup (and pie charts too). I have not done so yet, but I read where you can carmelize the onions in a crock pot/slow cooker. This particular recipe interests me greatly because of the cheese and the pale ale.
    Thanks a bunch for posting.

  4. I have yet to meet a female fan of Rush. And I'm Canadian, as are Rush. If national pride can't make me like them, nothing will. 😀

    • That's very funny. And I think you're probably right about the whole male/female thing. I hadn't thought of that.

      • Ayshela says:

        I don’t *mind* RUSH, but “Tom Sawyer” was big when I was in high school and got played what seemed like every fifteen minutes and I felt like I’d gotten my quota of RUSH for a lifetime well before I’d graduated. But then, I’m one of three women I know who love hockey, too, so I may be atypical. 😉

        You may have to compromise with Hubby and tell him you’ll look into liking RUSH when he looks into liking onion soup. *giggle*

        This sounds phenomenal! My guy would love the sourdough… I’d probably swap it out for mine. That’s one of our “don’t see eye to eye” things.

  5. Okay, so any time you want to have an onion soup party, all you have to do is say the word and I'll be there. Yum, this looks fantastic! Definitely not your run of the mill onion soup. And that photo is beautiful, that should be in Fine Cooking!

  6. Hubby says:

    You'all don't know what's good (music-wise anyhow). Harumph!!

    (the male/female fan comment actually comes up in the documentary about the band. It is funny and the guys in the band are well aware of it).

  7. Diana says:

    This is exactly what I'm craving right now. Any kind of onion soup is a winner in my book, and the ale seems like such a great addition!

  8. Monet says:

    I am a HUGE fan of onion soup too. Seeing these pictures have convinced me that I need to make this tonight! Thank you for sharing with me. This post, along with my cup of hot chocolate, is making for a very lovely Thursday morning. Have a great weekend!

  9. How awesome is it that your hubby commented on this post (with the appropriate level of righteous indignation). For what it's worth, my husband loves Rage Against the Machine and I think they're terrible. Thankfully, we both like onion soup (and croutons!) :)

  10. thatskinnychickcanbake says:

    Believe it or not, hubby will eat onion soup AND likes blue cheese. This sounds perfect for our approaching single digit temperature days next week. Did you get snow?

    • I heard something about 'arctic freeze' on the news this morning. Yuck. Yes, we got a bit of snow. There's enough for some sledding this morning, but then it'll melt. The biggest issue is that it rained a LOT, snowed a bit, then all froze. Down here, there aren't the resources for ice removal like up north so it paralyzes things and there are multitudes of accidents. Anyhow, we're all tucked in at home, Dudette's watching Sponge Bob and Hubby and I are enjoying coffee. It's a great way to start the weekend. :)

  11. thatskinnychickcanbake says:

    Snow and ice removal stinks here, too…we don't get enough snows to have a full fleet of plows…so when it does, the side streets get ignored…and become trecherous. I do love a good snow day at home, though…as long as it's not accompanied by bitter cold!

  12. Ooooh it ate my comment!!!

    Ok…. well now that the excitement has worn off….

    This soup looks amazing. And I will never know its joy because Handsome hates onions.
    Second, my father is obsessed with RUSH. I tooootally get it. I grew up listening to that wailing cat. 😀

  13. sportsglutton says:

    The man of the house is missing out. Onions, beer, blue cheese???….what's not to love!!

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