This unique take on French onion soup is fantastic. Made with pale ale and blue cheese croutons, the flavor is unique. You can’t have just one bowl.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the croutons and a sprinkling of the chives.