Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Do you have any St. Patrick’s Day traditions? Years and years ago, my friend Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails, on hiatus right now) used to drag us and a bunch of her buddies to some Irish pub uptown. It became quite the tradition, each year a different venu, drinking beer and getting silly (and by getting silly, I am specifically referring to the particularly exuberant cheers when we smashed our beer glasses and broke a few!). When she moved out west, we just stopped celebrating. Then about 6 years ago (actually, 6 years and 2 weeks), my dear friend and colleague Andy and his partner Mark opened an Irish Pub in Leslieville called The Roy Public House (named after Mark’s dad who passed a few years earlier) and ever since we’ve been celebrating this holiday with a beer or two there (I might add, with mature calmness!). I just love heading over to the east end of Toronto, the pub is always filled with locals and friends and it’s a great spot to catch up over a pint. The food is pretty tasty too, the Cobb Salad and the Half Pound Beef Dip are a couple of our favourites. If you’re ever in the big smoke, you MUST drop by and have a pint and grab a bite. This particular St. Patrick’s Day will be no different…sometime tomorrow afternoon we’ll pop over to The Roy and raise a glass or two in honour of St. Patrick.
Have you ever had a recipe in your head for months and months? This Irish inspired soup was something I had at a rather unassuming Irish pub in Barrie last fall…we were heading up to my brother’s cottage for Thanksgiving and our normal Sushi lunch place, just off the highway had unexpectedly closed down so we needed a new place, fast. We had been running late and were very hungry so we literally stopped at the first place we found in old downtown and what luck that we did. They have a chef who insists on house-made menu items and the Guinness Onion Soup is one of her specialties so I had to try it. It actually floored me on how delicious it was! The Guinness caramelizes the onions beautifully and brings a rich (not bitter) flavour to the soup — dare I say, even better than the traditional French Onion Soup. I had this soup in my head all winter long and knew eventually a recipe needed to be developed so what better time to develop it than for St. Patrick’s Day. Other than a little slicing, it’s a pretty easy recipe, I even made my own no knead bread (because JT was up at Limerick Township doing his Councillor duties!).
The recipe makes 1.75 L and it’s totally freezable (or you can have it for three lunches and three dinners like we did — I liked the soup THAT much).
Guinness Onion Soup with Cheddar and Croutons
Makes 1.75 L (depending on how much you boil it down)
- 650 g sweet onions, finely sliced
- 200 g leeks, finely sliced
- 440 mL Guinness draft
- Quick spray of canola oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar 1 L beef stock
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated old cheddar per serving
- Salt to taste
- Sweat the onions and leeks in a large oven proof Dutch oven until translucent and have begun to caramelize (about 30 minutes).
- Pre-heat oven to 300° F (149° C)
- Add the Guinness and apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Add bay leaves and give it a stir.
- Cover with a loosely cut piece of parchment with a hole in the centre like the illustration and place in oven until onions are richly caramelized and Guinness has cooked down about 30-45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and add 1 L of beef stock and bring back to a boil on the stove, taste and season now (keeping in mind that the cheddar will also add some saltiness).
- Create large homemade croutons from a couple of slices of no knead bread (cut into 2-3 cm (1″) cubes and toss with a little canola oil, toast until crispy all over.
- Ladle about 1 cup of soup into each pre-warmed bowl with a generous serving of cooked onions. Add broth to cover and sprinkle some grated cheddar over the onions. Add a few croutons and add more cheddar. Broil on high until cheese melts and is bubbly. Serve immediately, don’t stop to take photos.
- There are a lot of onions in this version because I was looking for a hearty soup.
- Notice I didn’t do the calorie calculation, there are some things we just don’t need to know.
- The vinegar adds a little bite and bit of sweetness, if you don’t like my Onion Confit then omit it or add less (or even substitute a good, rich balsamic vinegar).