English Onion Soup (Because who needs the French?)

From Robin Linn

Serves 6

What makes this English? Well, Robin used beer, rather than wine, and garnished her soup with extrasharp Cheddar, rather than Gruyere. And, of course, a dash of Worcestershire sauce makes everything veddy proper. Says Robin: “I adapted this from a few different recipes, including those by two of my favorite gents – Jamie Oliver and Chris Kimball. Getting the maximum onion flavor takes a few hours, but it’s worth it.”


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
olive oil
4 lbs of assorted onions, peeled and sliced (I used yellow, red, white, shallots, leeks)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
½ cup English beer
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
ground black pepper

sage, extrasharp Cheddar, Worcestershire sauce (all optional)


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly coat the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot or Dutch oven with olive oil. Place the butter in the pot and add the onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).

Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot halfway through.

Remove pot from oven and place on stove over medium-high heat. Continue to cook the onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, roughly 6 to 8 minutes. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.)

Stir in ¼ cup water, scraping the pot to loosen crust, and cook until the water evaporates and another dark crust has formed on the bottom of the pot, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing a couple more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in the beer and cook, stirring frequently, until it evaporates, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the broths, 2 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot.

Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

Top with croutons and Cheddar cheese, then broil (or just crumble cheese on top). Add fried sage leaves and a hit of Worcestershire sauce. Serve.


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One Response to “English Onion Soup (Because who needs the French?)”

  1. » Soup & Bread in the New York Times | Hideout Chicago Says:

    […] in the New York Times. Gah! We were very excited to see not just S&B but Robin Linn’s English Onion Soup, Rob Miller’s free-range Venison Chili, Jill Barron’s Green Curry Butternut Squash, and […]

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