I recently bought Canadian chef Mary Berg’s new cookbook, In Mary’s Kitchen. It contains lots of good recipes, including this onion soup. Caramelize onions and add butter, garlic and maple syrup. Deglaze the pan with brandy and balsamic vinegar. Add stout and stock and simmer for about 30 minutes. Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls, top with bread and cheese and broil until browned. Cook’s note: I used regular beer and chicken stock

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use pure maple syrup and fresh herbs. I used Acetaia La Bonissima Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Steam Whistle beer and Imagine Organic chicken stock. Check to be sure the cheddar does not contain colour.

Caramelize the onions

Add beer and stock after deglazing the pan

Top soup with bread and cheese and broil until lightly browned


3 tablespoons (45 ml) unsalted butter, divided

4 medium yellow cooking onions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup

2 teaspoons (10 ml) finely chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon (15 ml) finely chopped fresh sage

1 fresh bay leaf, optional

2 tablespoons (30 ml) brandy

1 tablespoon (15 ml) balsamic vinegar

1 cup (250 ml) Irish stout

4 cups (1 L) beef stock

4 x ½-inch (1.27-centimeter slices country bread, toasted

1–1 ½  cups (250-375 ml) grated cheddar cheese


In a large saucepot over medium-low heat, melt two tablespoons (30 ml) of butter, add in the onions, and season with kosher salt and pepper. Give the onions a stir and allow them to cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown slightly, about 15 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium/medium-high, add in the remaining butter, garlic, and maple syrup, and allow the onions to cook and caramelize for ten more minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to low, add in the herbs, and deglaze the pan with the brandy and balsamic vinegar, stirring very well and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate any of the golden bits that have developed.

Add in the Irish stout and allow it to bubble until reduced by half then stir in the beef stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow it to cook for 25 to 30 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

Season the soup with more salt and pepper to taste then ladle it into four oven-safe soup ramekins or French onions soup dishes. Turn the broiler on to high and top each ramekin of soup with a piece of country bread and a good scattering of Irish cheddar. Broil until lightly browned, about three to five minutes, making sure to keep your eye on it so that the cheese and toast don’t burn.

Allow to cool slightly before serving. Serves 4.

From In Mary’s Kitchen