Smoky Beer French Onion Soup is a delicious and flavorful twist on the iconic soup! Tender onions, garlic, thyme and smoked paprika simmer with beer and beef stock. Ladle soup into bowls and top with toasted baguette slices and lots of gruyere before slipping under the broiler. This recipe yields 10 cups or about 6.
It’s my favorite time of year. Soup season.
The moment we turn the furnace on, I declare it soup season. The weather has finally changed here in Michigan and it’s starting to feel a lot like fall. And I’ve been dreaming of this smoky beer French onion soup for quite a while now.
I first tested it out using smoked gruyere and let me tell you, I learned quickly, smoked gruyere doesn’t melt. Like at all. So the easiest way to get that smoky flavor that works so well with the beer, bread and gruyere is to use smoked paprika.
The end result is a cozy comforting soup that will warm your soul on a chilly night.
Now, if you need me, I’ll be in a cheesy carb coma. Send snickers bars.
To Make this Smoky Beer French Onion Soup You Will need:
- unsalted butter
- kosher salt
- thyme (fresh)
- smoked paparika (not pictured because 🤦🏻♀️)
- unbleached all-purpose flour
- unsalted beef stock
- bay leaves
- black pepper
- French baguette
- olive oil or olive oil spray
- gruyere cheese
Start by slicing up 3 pounds of onions about 1/4 of an inch thick. I’m using a combination of sweet, yellow and red onions plus shallots. You can use all red or a mixture of whatever you have on hand. The types of onions my affect the taste slightly but should be delicious nonetheless.
Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter into a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add in all of the onions with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
Toss well to coat the onions in the butter.
Cover and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low, uncover and cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes. I literally set a timer for 5 minutes and only stir when it goes off.
This is what the onions look at the 30 minute mark.
And this is what they look like at the 1 hour mark.
Once the onions are soft, add in 3 cloves minced fresh garlic and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Next add in 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour and stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir while pouring in 1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer.
What’s the best Type Of Beer to Use In Cooking?
- Ale, porter and stout beers work well in soups or stews with beef, lamb and pork.
- Belgian ales pair well with wild game and hearty meat recipes.
- Nut-brown ales work nicely with most stews and cheesy dishes
- Wheat beers are great with chicken and seafood.
- When all else fails, use a beer you enjoy the flavor of.
Then pour in 6 cups unsalted beef stock.
Drop in 2 bay leaves, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, with the lid to the pot askew, for 45 minutes.
While the soup simmers, preheat your oven to 400°.
Spray a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil or drizzle with olive oil. Place the slices of baguette down and spray or drizzle with more olive oil.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until toasted and the edges golden brown. Rotating the pan half way through to ensure even toasting.
Remove the bay leaves. I once at a restaurant and removed 5 bay leaves from my bowl of French onion soup 😳.
Set up your soup making station. Since I was saving the soup to enjoy throughout the week, I only prepared 2 bowls for this post. However if serving all of the soup you will need 6 oven safe soup bowls depending on their size.
These are the bowls I have and I measure 1-1/2 cups of soup before topping with the bread and cheese.
The size of bowls will determine how many servings you will get out of this recipe.
Place your oven safe soup bowls on a rimmed metal baking dish. This makes it easy to transfer in and out of your oven. Then ladle soup into bowls leaving room for bread and cheese.
Top each bowl with 2 slices of the toasted French baguette.
Add top with cheese. You will need 12 ounces freshly grated gruyere cheese total.
Preheat your ovens broiler to high.
Slide the pan with the soups onto the middle rack of your oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
Sprinkle with pinches of smoked paprika before serving.
This is my dream meal.
The flavor of the beer with the onions, paprika and gruyere is a match made in soup heaven!
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Smoky Ale French Onion Soup
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 pounds onions, combo of red, yellow, sweet and shallots
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3 peeled garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, rounded
- 12 ounces beer, Belgian Wheat Ale
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for serving
- 6 cups beef stock, unsalted
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 (13 ounce) French baguette, 1/2-inch thick slices
- olive oil spray
- 12 ounces gruyere, grated
- Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Once melted, add in sliced onions and salt. Stir, cover and cook for 5 minutes undisturbed.
- Then uncover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 40 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes. I set a timer and only stir when it goes off.
- When the onions are caramelized, add in minced garlic and thyme. Stir and cook 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add in paprika and sprinkle in flour, stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour in the beer, scraping the bottom of the pot to pick up any browned bits.
- Then pour in beef stock and drop in bay leaves. Bring soup to a boil then reduce to medium-low to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400° and spray a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
- Place sliced baguette on prepared baking sheet, spray or drizzle with olive oil. Bake 10 minutes or until golden.
- Place oven-safe soup bowls on a rimmed metal baking sheet. Ladle soup into bowls and top with 2 slices of baguette and top with lots of smoked gruyere.
- Use oven mitts to move oven rack to the second rung in your oven and preheat broiler to high.
- Broil soup for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Remove and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve garnished with a few short thyme sprigs
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