Dublin meets Paris in this amazingly tasty winter treat. If you have the time and the opportunity, try to get hold of as many different types of onion as you can for this soup - you’ll need about two pounds in total. Sweat them gently and you’ll be amazed at all the flavors going on. This recipe rewards effort!
Knob of butter
Handful fresh sage leaves, 8 leaves reserved for garnish
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5 red onions, peeled and sliced
3 large white onions, peeled and sliced
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
11 ounces leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of Guinness
4 cups good-quality hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock
8 slices good-quality stale bread, 3/4-inch thick
7 ounces freshly grated Cheddar
Put the butter, 2 table spoons of olive oil, the sage and garlic into a heavy bottomed, nonstick pan. Stir everything round and add the onions, shallots and leeks. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook slowly for 50 minutes, without coloring the vegetables too much.
Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes, the onions will become soft and golden. Stir occasionally so nothing catches on the bottom. Having the patience to cook the onions slowly gives you an incredible sweetness and flavor - so don’t be tempted to speed this up!
When your onions and leeks are silky, add the beer and stock. Bring to boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You can skim any fat off the surface if you like, or leave it because it adds good flavor.
Preheat the oven or broiler to maximum. Toast your bread on both sides. Correct the seasoning of the soup. When it’s perfect, ladle it into individual heatproof serving bowls and place them on a baking sheet. Tear toasted bread over each bowl like a lid. Feel free to push and dunk the bread into the soup a bit. Sprinkle with some grated Cheddar and drizzle over a little Worcestershire sauce.
Dress your reserved sage leaves with some olive oil and place one on top of each slice of bread. Put the baking sheet into the preheated oven or under the broiler to melt the cheese until bubbling and golden. Keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t burn. When the cheese is bubbling, very carefully lift out the baking sheet and carry it to the table.
*Originally published in May 2014.