Saturday, May 7, 2011

Weekend Cooking... Irish Onion Soup

First of all, I have no idea why this is called Irish Onion Soup. It may be because of the original cheese the recipe, from Tasting Table, calls for...

First, Mooney displaces standard beef stock with an intensely flavorful broth made from dried shiitake mushrooms. For robustness, he cooks both sharp white and sweet red onions until deeply caramelized. The soup's powerful flavors are as bottomless as they are clear.
Mooney's mushroom stock alone would be plenty distinctive. But he one-ups himself by topping the soup with slices of house-baked sourdough, the familiar Gruyère and a phenomenally rare Knockanore oak-smoked cheddar. This Irish cheese, all stretch and wood perfume, is not being served anywhere else in New York, as far as we know.
We scored the recipe from Mooney  Since home cooks probably won't be able to secure Knockanore's smoked cheddar, Mooney suggests using an Italian delicatessen staple: smoked provolone.

I know that a few of Weekend Cooking are vegetarians, so when I came upon this recipe, I thought it might be something good to try. Of course, you would have to be someone who eats cheese, because what it Onion Soup with that melted layer of cheese on top?
Ok, to be totally honest, I made this as an excuse to eat a nice little lump of melted cheese. But I was interested to see how the mushroom stock would turn out too. Because as you see, if you read the recipe, the stock is made with just poring boiling water over dried shiitake  mushroom and letting them soak, then draining them through a coffee filter to catch any grit.I can't say that i found it quite as flavorful as the write up see a couple of my additions after the recipe.

Irish Onion Soup
Recipe adapted from John Mooney, Bell Book & Candle

Makes 4 servings
• 2 quarts water
• 12 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
• 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil, divided
• 5 medium white onions, thinly sliced
• 3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
• 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
• 6 ounces smoked provolone cheese, coarsely grated
• 8 slices toasted baguette

1. Make the mushroom stock: In a saucepan, bring the 1
quart of water to a boil and turn off the heat. Add the
mushrooms and place a plate or something heavy on top
of them to keep them submerged. Let steep for 30
minutes, then strain through cheesecloth or a coffee
filter and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in each of two large saucepans
until shimmering. Add the white onions to one pan and
the red onions to the other and cook, stirring often,
until well-browned but not burnt, about 30 minutes. (If
the onions start to stick to the pan, add a small amount
of mushroom stock to loosen them.)
3. Preheat the oven to 500°. Add the white onions to the
red onions. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Season
to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Ladle the soup among 4 ovenproof crocks. Place 2 of the
baguette slices on top of each crock. Combine the two
cheeses in a bowl, then sprinkle the cheese mixture on
top of the bread in each crock. Place the crocks on a
baking sheet and bake in the oven until the cheese is
golden brown, about 4 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Ok, I was a little upset by the short list of ingredients, so before the onions were added to the stock I added about 1/2 cup of red wine and let that cook down. Then after they were added to the stock, I added a couple of bay leaves and about 1/2 teaspoon of thyme and let that all simmer together. I also think it need a fair bit of salt, since there is none in the stock and a nice bit of pepper.
And, of course, cheese. Lots and lots of cheese!

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Totally agree that the stock needed a boost. I like your additions. And, yes, lots of cheese. I wonder if Wegman's has the Irish cheese ... humm. I'll have to search.

  2. As one of those always looking for great vegetarian recipes, I appreciate that this stock is made from mushrooms :)
    I am now very curious about that Irish cheese; I loved smoked cheeses, and I loved cheddar, so this sounds like a must have for me. We have a lot of ethnic grocers near us, I'm hoping someone will have it!

  3. I'm one of those (probably very few) vegetarians who doesn't care for cheese! I happen to have a soup with the word Irish in it that is the plainest of plain soups with just a few ingredients:

    You could always put cheese on the top ;<)

  4. My mouth started to water when I looked at this recipe and now it is a definite need to try. Thanks!

  5. Caite, this is a brilliant recipe. I've made onion soup before but never with red onions or mushroom stock. And, I agree with your additions (definitely salt and bay leaves). I can't wait to try this one.

  6. That's such a good part of dried mushrooms, the broth! And that gooey cheese,looks like a really fantastic soup, I have to try this.

  7. I've never had onion soup. I love onions though so should love the soup!

    Here's my recipe

  8. This sounds delicious and I agree with your additions. I might even add some chopped celery to the broth.

    The onions in my pantry are calling my name.

  9. Your additions are exactly what I would have added! It's been too long since I've made onion soup - wonder if I can find the Irish cheese...

  10. Mmmmmmm... lots of cheese. That really looks delicious.

  11. How can you go wrong with all that cheese? To me it sounds great!

  12. Your photo is mouth watering! I usually use part chicken stock and part beef stock so no need to add salt but I can see that it would be necessary with this recipe. I'm sending this to my daughter as she is a vegetarian. Thanks for posting!

  13. Sounds yummy! Such a pity the mushroom stock wasn't as you'd hoped. Luckily, you're enough of a cook to know what to add to make it nice.

    I love onoin soup ... but isn't the bread impossible to eat? I always struggle with that - and the cheese. :-)

  14. I'm a big fan of French Onion Soup so Irish Onion should be just as delish! Looks fantastic!!!

  15. Interesting on the "Irish Onion." I made a variant on a Jamie Oliver onion soup that he calls English Onion Soup, I always assumed for the cheeses and the copious amount of Worcestershire sauce. (Love it, by the way!) Next time I'm going to have to add some red wine, though - great idea. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Oh this looks so good. I have never added mushrooms to my onion soup before. I am going to add them the next time I make it!

  17. I would eat this just for the cheese. The mushroom broth sounds good,


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