The Best French Onion Soup Recipe. Ever. (Hint: It Has Beer)
We’re excited to welcome this guest post from Trisha Miller, a freelance writer from Boise, ID — and a dedicated vegan who enjoys all things craft beer, gardening, and video gaming. Welcome, Trisha!
This soup is so flavorful that it doesn’t rely on bread to give it a nice punch. Guess what? It actually calls for beer.
While this is one of my longer recipes, I love it all the same. It can take an hour to an hour and a half to make, but you need such few ingredients that I feel it is totally worth it. Bread is definitely always a plus, and beer is too. You won’t find a French onion soup that stacks up quite the same. I personally love soup all year round, but you can definitely beef this up a bit for winter or slim it down for summer if you would like.
Beer Onion Soup
What you will need:
- 1 whole onion (any kind is fine)
- ½ tablespoon of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of high heat oil (I use grapeseed)
- 3 tablespoons of beer (optional)
- 2 cartons of vegetable broth
- 2 large mushrooms
- hemp hearts (optional)
- pepper +1 loaf of bread (optional)
How to chop your onion
Let’s get started! Break out a medium depth pan and turn your heat to medium. Pour in two tablespoons of your favorite high heat oil – grapeseed oil is my favorite. While that is heating up, go ahead and chop your entire onion. What I usually do is peel the onion first, then chop off the yucky ends. then I stand it on one end and chop it straight in half. Then, you can put the flat side of the half down onto your cutting board so the round part is facing up at you. Begin to slice in strips. I usually create about 8 strips just to give you an idea. The goal is to get pieces that are not too thick and not too thin. You want them to be as close to the same size as possible so it evenly browns. If some are too small then they have the potential to burn. So, once you have your strips I usually flip the onion the opposite direction and slice the entire thing in half so that all of your strips are now cut in half the opposite way. Do that with both sides and you should have some nice hearty onion chunks as the base for your soup!
By the time you have chopped up your onion your oil should be shimmery and slipping easily around the pan. Make sure that you slide the oil all over your pan so that all the onions are evenly coated. Go ahead and drop in your onions at this point and mix them around in the oil with a wooden spoon or spatula. After you can see that they are well covered in oil you can leave them to rest. Just let them do their thing in the pan and make sure to check on them every few minutes. Once they start to get more brown you will want to check on them more frequently. For the first few minutes feel free to let them sit for 5 minutes at a time while they start to caramelize. You want the onions to be a deep brown color, but not be burnt. If it feels like your onions are starting to burn just turn down your heat a little bit at a time until they are browning properly – I know every stovetop is different.
Get your broth ready
A good preparation step to complete while you are waiting is to get the vegetable broth ready. Choose a deep pot and fill it up with your broth. It needs to be deep enough that your boiling liquid won’t splash over the sides when it is boiling. Once you have emptied your broth then you can turn your burner to medium high heat. I usually aim to get my broth simmering by the time my onion mixture is done.
Add whatever you would like to the top of your soup to give it a little kick. Add cheese, hemp hearts (what I have pictured), green onions, croutons, bacon bits, or whatever other interesting things you can think of.
Love those little flavor sponges
After your onions have turned a deep brown (but not dark brown yet) chop up your mushrooms however you would like and add them and your garlic to the onions. I wait this long to add the garlic because I feel that if you add it right away it will burn. I usually put my mushrooms top down on the cutting board and slice them in strips and cut those strips in half just like I did with the onion, but it really doesn’t matter as much with the mushrooms. stir those around in the onions to make sure they are coated with oil then you can leave them for a few minutes while the onions keep browning.
Get a little sauced
Once the onions have basically reached a dark brown then you can add the beer and salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to not go overboard with the salt and pepper. Just add a little at a time if you think it needs more. You can always add more later if you think it needs it. Don’t worry if your onions aren’t perfect. Just try to make sure they don’t burn. There will be some lighter and even translucent parts to the onion. Take your pan off of the heat for a second before you add the beer. If you add liquids to a pan that is too hot you may get some sizzling that can pop and hit you – and that hurts! If you are confident in your pouring abilities you can splash enough beer in the pan to just get all of your onions wet. Otherwise, just 3 full tablespoons of it.
Reduce, reduce, reduce
At this point you can just leave your onions and let the flavors reduce in your pan. You want the liquid to be gone before you add the onions mixture to the vegetable broth. You don’t have to add beer to your soup. However, I really think that this element gives this soup such a punch of flavor that I wouldn’t know how to replace with anything else. If you need to give your onions a stir a couple times every couple of minutes to make sure they don’t burn that is okay. Once the liquid is gone go ahead and add them to the broth. At this point your broth should be simmering if not boiling. If it isn’t lightly boiling turn up the heat just a little on your burner. At this point you are almost done!
If you want to add some bread for dipping now is the time to do it. Take your favorite artisan bread and slice it thick. I usually add some garlic and oil to a plate then mix that together and lightly dip your bread on one side in the mixture. Then you can lay them side by side on a pan and pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for just 5 minutes. If you like your bread crunchy then go for 10 minutes.
You may need to let your soup boil for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered. Keep checking back every 5 minutes or so and taste it. You will notice that your soup starts to reduce and the flavors become more powerful. Once it tastes good to you then you are finished!