FEBRUARY 19, 2013

MEET THE SOUS CHEF

JAMES KLUCHARITS, SOUS CHEF, ABV, NEW YORK, NY

James Klucharits has the charming earnestness of someone only a few years out of culinary school. When the sous chef of ABV in New York City talks about his recipe for onion soup, the 2011 French Culinary Institute grad underscores the importance of developing layers of flavor. From the deeply caramelized onions that give the soup body, to the concentrated beef stock that underpins its savory flavor, to the final cap of bronzed cheese, which acts as salty counterpoint to the sweet onions, this soup is a classic example of building flavor from the ground up.

And in contrast to flash-in-the-pan, time-sensitive recipes, this one requires that you take it slow--an ideal winter weekend project.

TRACK THIS CHEF

James Klucharits's:
See Recipe See the recipe for James Klucharits's Irish Onion Soup

DAY IN THE LIFE

TIPS & TECHNIQUES

Soup Secrets

Deeply caramelized onions are the secret to Klucharits’ soup. He lets the sliced yellow onions slowly cook over very low heat until they are chestnut-brown and sticky. This step takes time, and Klucharits advises against rushing it. If you have time, he also recommends making your own beef stock, though a good-quality store-bought stock is fine too.

A French Soup Goes Irish

Klucharits gives his soup an Irish spin by flavoring the base with both whiskey and stout. Instead of the traditional cap of Gruyère cheese, he tops his soup with a thick layer of melted cheddar.

MAKE THE
Irish Onion Soup

YIELD

4 servings

INGREDIENTS

Unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons

Yellow onions, 2 medium (halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise into ½-inch-thick pieces)

Irish whiskey, 3 tablespoons

Granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon

Kosher salt, 1½ teaspoons plus a pinch

All-purpose flour, 1½ tablespoons

Garlic, 1 clove (finely chopped)

Dark Irish beer (such as Guinness), ½ cup

Beef stock or broth, 6½ cups

Freshly ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon

Day-old baguette, eight ¾-inch-thick slices

Sharp cheddar (preferably Irish cheddar), eight ¼-inch-thick slices

EQUIPMENT

Chef's knife

Bread knife

Cutting board

Measuring cups and spoons

Large, deep skillet

Medium soup pot

Wooden spoon

Long match (optional)

4 oven-safe bowls

Ladle

Rimmed baking sheet

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the:

  • Unsalted butter

Once the butter has melted and the white foam subsides, add the:

  • Sliced onions

Cook, using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 20 minutes.

2. Add the:

  • Irish whiskey

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). Stir in the:

  • Granulated sugar

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a darker shade of brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the:

  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Finely chopped garlic

Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Then, while stirring, pour in the:

  • Dark Irish beer

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the dark beer is reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the:

  • Beef stock
  • Remaining 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.

4. 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

Cover each slice of bread with 2 pieces of the:

  • 2 pieces sliced sharp cheddar

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). Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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