This hearty version of French onion soup goes beyond traditional beef stock. It’s filled with chunks of steak and Belgian brown ale. Topped with a thick French baguette slice and melted shredded Gruyere cheese, football season may never be the same.
We had an odd rainy day in Las Vegas on Sunday. It’s not odd to have bursts of rain during monsoon season, but this was a good 4-hour down pour. It reminded me of the rainy days in Belgium.
I spent the morning in the rain shooting photos of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships as athletes raced through Lake Mead National Recreation Area. After an hour, I was soaked and chilled to the bone and in need of a rib-warming bowl of soup.
The dish was so simple. Rich, elegant beef broth, tender, thinly-sliced onions and a large crouton with shredded, melted cheese.
It’s hard to mess with perfection, but darn it I had to try. I wanted to enhance the flavors of the beef broth and add more substance to the bowl, so I browned up some cubed New York Steak. Feel free to use any cut of steak, but cut off the extra fat, to avoid bites of gristle.
Since I also had Belgium on the mind, I poured in some brown ale. I had a large bottle of St. Feullien in the fridge. The ale is brewed just 10 miles down the road from where I used to live in Belgium. A nice bottle of Leffe Brune, Grimbergen Brune or Chimay Blue would be nice, as well. If you’re not a beer fan, just use an extra cup of beef broth.
For the traditional crouton, I used a fresh slice of homemade French baguette. Store-bought is obviously fine, too. Then, some shredded Gruyere cheese finished it off. You can substitute Swiss, if you’re on a budget or can’t find Gruyere.
My husband ate his entire bowl without talking. He just kept digging through the melted cheese pulling out tender chunks of steak, until it was time for seconds. When my biggest food critic is speechless, I know I hit the mark.
This batch makes 4-6 servings. If you want to double it for a football party, go for it! The crowd will go wild!
- 1 lb. steak
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Belgian brown ale
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt, to taste
- 1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, to taste
- 4-6 French baguette slices
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
Trim the steak to remove the fat rind and any visible cartilage. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Toss with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the steak and brown for about 5-6 minutes.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook 2-3 minutes to make a roux.
Add the beer and deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the beef broth, thyme, bay leaf and salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes. (The longer it cooks, the more tender the steak will be).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Ladle into a ramekin or oven-safe soup dish. Top with a baguette slice.
Top with shredded cheese.
Place the bowls on a pan and heat in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese melts and browns. If you have soup bowls that can withstand 500 degrees, you can place them under the broiler to melt the cheese faster.
Serve and enjoy.