James Klucharits of ABV | Irish Onion Soup

Caramelized onions, beef stock and cheddar cheese unite
45 Ratings
100% would make again
SCS: James Klucharits

James Klucharits has the charming earnestness of someone only a few years out of culinary school. When the sous chef of ABV in New York City talks about his recipe for onion soup, the 2011 French Culinary Institute grad underscores the importance of developing layers of flavor. From the deeply caramelized onions that give the soup body, to the concentrated beef stock that underpins its savory flavor, to the final cap of bronzed cheese, which acts as salty counterpoint to the sweet onions, this soup is a classic example of building flavor from the ground up.

And in contrast to flash-in-the-pan, time-sensitive recipes, this one requires that you take it slow--an ideal winter weekend project.

Irish Onion Soup

Recipe adapted from James Klucharits, ABV, New York City

Yield: 4 servings

Cook Time: 1 hour


Unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons

Yellow onions, 2 medium (halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise into ½-inch-thick pieces)

Irish whiskey, 3 tablespoons

Granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon

Kosher salt, 1½ teaspoons plus a pinch

All-purpose flour, 1½ tablespoons

Garlic, 1 clove (finely chopped)

Dark Irish beer (such as Guinness), ½ cup

Beef stock or broth, 6½ cups

Freshly ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon

Day-old baguette, eight ¾-inch-thick slices

Sharp cheddar (preferably Irish cheddar), eight ¼-inch-thick slices


1. In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the:

  • Unsalted butter

Once the butter has melted and the white foam subsides, add the:

  • Sliced onions

Cook, using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes.

2. Add the:

  • Irish whiskey

If you have a gas burner, carefully tilt the pan toward the flame to flambé the onion-and-whiskey mixture. If you have an electric or induction cooktop, use a long match to flambé the whiskey (or you can skip the flambéing altogether). Stir in the:

  • Granulated sugar

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a darker shade of brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the:

  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Finely chopped garlic

Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Then, while stirring, pour in the:

  • Dark Irish beer

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the dark beer is reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the:

  • Beef stock
  • Remaining 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the broiler to high. Divide the soup among 4 oven-safe bowls and set them on a rimmed baking sheet. To each bowl, add

  • 2 bread slices

Cover each slice of bread with 2 pieces of the:

  • 2 pieces sliced sharp cheddar

Set the rimmed baking sheet on the upper-middle oven rack and broil until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes (watch the cheese closely, as broiler intensities vary). Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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