The recipe for Onion and Ale Soup with Blue Cheese Croutons (click for the recipe) first attracted me because it had the word “ale” in it.
This conjured up an image of men
clad in animal robes, swords in scabbards on their belts, holding up humongous
beer steins and grunting out appreciation for their mug of ale.
It could have been onion and beer
soup, but’s not – it’s onion and ale soup, which seems somehow more ancient and
Upon further examination of the
recipe, I saw it looked like a nice twist on traditional French onion soup. The
onions are plentiful and there is cheese-topped bread on top, but there is none
of the extra work of putting the cheese-covered soup bowls back into the oven
This soup is delicious and terrific for
a cold winter day. My husband was particularly fond of it, especially the
blue-cheese covered croutons. The croutons sink into the soup, getting nice and
soft and slurp-able.
I was amazed to find how well leftovers
warmed up the next day. I put the soup in a container with some croutons on top
and sealed it with the top. The next day at work, I popped the whole thing in
the microwave for lunch and was rewarded with a hot and fresh soup that was
just as good as it was the night before.
The recipe calls for pale ale such
as Saranac or Sierra Nevada. These are both American brands not available in
our local liquor store.
There was a Canadian brand of pale
ale, Original 16, that my husband bought and I used in the soup. It was brewed
by the Great Western Brewing Company in Saskatoon, a city right in my home
province of Saskatchewan.
I have a couple bits of advice for
this recipe. Abide by the recipe’s instructions to cut the sourdough bread into
one-inch cubes. They are quite big, but need to be so that pieces of blue
cheese can be put on them with ease, and so the blue cheese in turn has a large
surface area on which to melt.
Make sure, too, to use a soft blue
cheese such as Gorgonzola, which the recipe advises. It will melt more easily.
The recipe says to “sprinkle” the blue cheese on the croutons, but I took the
time to put a piece of blue cheese on each piece of bread.
Thinly-sliced yellow onions are
cooked in a Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot for up to half an hour.
Pale ale is added and brought to a
boil. This will take just seconds, after which the heat is turned down slightly
and the ale and onions cooked until nearly all the ale has evaporated.
Chicken and beef broths are added (I
used storebought) and the mixture is brought to a boil, then simmered for about
Meanwhile, bread cubes cut from
sourdough bread are tossed with olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet, then baked
in the oven for about 10 minutes. Blue cheese is put on top, then the croutons
are baked until the cheese has melted.
The soup is served in bowls with the
croutons and a sprinkling of fresh chives on top.