Irish American Onion Soup Recipe

We can confidently state that no other New York restaurant is serving a French onion soup like the one at the West Village's new Bell Book & Candle.

Indeed, chef John Mooney's genius soup is a bright life vest in a city flooded with porcelain crocks and Gruyère-tiled rafts of bread.

We do not use the word "genius" lightly. Mooney dubs his version of the French classic "Irish American onion soup," and the dish (pictured; $8) is as singular as its name.

First, Mooney displaces standard beef stock with an intensely flavorful broth made from dried shiitake mushrooms. For robustness, he cooks both sharp white and sweet red onions until deeply caramelized. The soup's powerful flavors are as bottomless as they are clear.

Mooney's mushroom stock alone would be plenty distinctive. But he one-ups himself by topping the soup with slices of house-baked sourdough, the familiar Gruyère and a phenomenally rare Knockanore oak-smoked cheddar. This Irish cheese, all stretch and wood perfume, is not being served anywhere else in New York, as far as we know.

We scored the recipe from Mooney (click here to download). Since home cooks probably won't be able to secure Knockanore's smoked cheddar, Mooney suggests using an Italian delicatessen staple: smoked provolone.

Soup's on.

Bell Book & Candle, 141 W. 10th St. (between Greenwich Ave. and Waverly Pl.); 212-414-2355 or