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Irish Onion Soup from Sous Chef James Klucharit of ABV, NYC

Irish Onion Soup from Sous Chef James Klucharit of ABV, NYC
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Caramelized Onions, essential to any Onion Soup

A Classic Soup takes on an Irish accent

Who doesn’t love a great bowl of Onion Soup?  Deep, rich beefy broth, onions melted into the soup, that crust of bread topped with melted gruyere, all are irresistible.  You’ll find endless variations of the French version of the soup.  Some use beef stock, others chicken.  Some have wine, some do not.  All have one thing in common, very slowly cooked onions that caramelize for intense onion flavor.  So how is Chef Klucharit’s soup different and what makes it Irish?

Two surprise additions make this soup as Irish as St.Patrick’s Day

Thick-sliced Onions–just one key to making Irish Onion Soup
Upping the Irish…Guinness of course!

The first difference I noticed was the young chef’s directions to slice sweet onions into pieces ½ inch thick.  Onions in most French recipes are almost invariably sliced thin. (And at our house there was a bit of a discussion about whether Chef Klucharit’s onions needed to be quite that thick.)  But the dish really gets its Irish from the use of both Irish Whisky and Guinness Stout. These change the flavor of the soup base to something completely different. And very Irish! Then the chef tops his soup with a thick ¼ inch layer of sharp Irish Cheddar cheese to seal the deal.

The starting point for all Onion Soups is a really good Beef Stock

Sous Chef Klucharit recommends making stock yourself.  I realize I will lose half of you with this recommendation. So right away, I am going to give you dispensation to can fall back on store-bought stock. However you might want to consider this:  per the USDA, it’s permissible for store-bought stock to contain 135 parts water to one part beef.  You might well ask, where’s the beef?  I think Trader Joe’s does an admirable job with their broths and stocks.  But I always goose them up with extra bouillon when I use store-bought stock–especially for soups.

Making great Beef Stock isn’t hard at all…it’s the hours on the stove that take the time.

I had the remains of a standing rib roast just for that purpose.   I love making stock because it’s the perfect way to clean out the vegetable bins of carrots and onions and celery that are on their last legs.  Of course, it’s time-consuming but not the prep part.  That’s a snap.  It’s the hours on the stove that take the time.  The reward is a stock with great gelatin content, loads of beefy flavor, and an end result, in this case, a soup, that has a soul.  So if you can, please follow this recipe and make stock.

The recipe for this great stock came from none other than Julia Child herself

Julia Child knew her way around a stockpot. And here’s where you can find her original recipe for beef stock.  https://www.food.com/recipe/simple-beef-stock-a-la-julia-child-147999. Once this stock is made, freeze whatever you don’t use.  It will keep for 6 months in the freezer. However, once it is defrosted, it should be kept in the refrigerator and used within 5 days.

Who is James Klucharit and where can we find him?

This recipe goes back 10 years.  At the time, Tasting Table (www.TastingTable.com) teamed up with Williams-Sonoma. Once a week the online publication featured a “Sous Chef Series”.  It featured some of the city’s hardest-working help in every city kitchen, the Sous Chefs. Tasting Table gave these newcomers their turn to shine every Monday. Readers met the chefs, saw what went on behind the scenes in their restaurants, and were treated to one of the Sous Chef’s own recipes. And one week, they featured a young chef called James Klucharit. He worked at ABV,  a wine bar on the Upper Upper East Side. ABV stands for “Alcohol By Volume” which is how they sold their wines.  They featured a very eclectic menu featuring, for instance, a foie gras fluffernutter. (Really?). For whatever reason, likely the pandemic the place has shuttered and I cannot find a trace of James Klucharit. Any sightings would be greatly appreciated. Here’s today’s recipe…just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Onion Soup from Chef James Klucharit

March 13, 2023
: 4 to 6
: Patience is a virtue here and it pays off in every spoonful

A deeply beefy broth, caramlized onions spiked with both Irish Whisky and Guiness Stout for an Irish version of great Onion Soup


  • Unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons
  • Yellow onions, 2 medium (halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces)
  • Irish whiskey, 3 tablespoons
  • Granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons plus a pinch
  • All-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • Garlic, 1 clove (finely chopped)
  • Dark Irish beer (such as Guinness), 1/2 cup
  • Beef stock or broth, 6 1/2 cups
  • Freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Day-old baguette, eight 3/4-inch-thick slices
  • Sharp cheddar (preferably Irish cheddar like Dubliner), eight 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Step 1 In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the Unsalted butter
  • Step 2 Once the butter has melted and the white foam subsides, add the Sliced onions
  • Step 3 Cook, using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes.
  • Step 4 Add theIrish whiskey.
  • Step 5 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).
  • Step 6 Stir in the Granulated sugar.
  • Step 7 Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions turn a darker shade of brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Step 8 Stir in the Pinch of kosher salt, All-purpose flour, and Finely chopped garlic
  • Step 9 Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Then, while stirring, pour in the Dark Irish beer
  • Step 10 Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the dark beer is reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.
  • Step 11 Add the Beef stock, Remaining 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, and Freshly ground black pepper
  • Step 12 Bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Step 13 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
  • Step 14 Cover each slice of bread with 2 pieces of sliced sharp cheddar
  • Step 15 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).
  • Step 16 Remove from the oven and serve immediately.





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