French Vs Irish Onion Soup: What's The Difference?

There are many reasons to be a fan of soup. A soup can provide warmth and have that savory taste that makes it such an enduring comfort food. It soothes and relaxes, encouraging you to be mindful while eating. And it is an effortless way to fuel your body with nutrients.

Onion soup, for example, is packed with goodness. It provides vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, and antioxidants. Some claim that the immune-boosting properties of onion soup may help keep you healthier during the cold and flu season.

But not all onion soup is the same. Arguably, the most popular type is French onion soup. Another favorite is English onion soup. But did you realize there is also an Irish onion soup? If you enjoy onion soup for its comfort food qualities, Irish onion soup is a dish that deserves your attention. There are fundamental differences in the recipe, such as the type of alcohol and cheese used, that may make it even more craveable and satisfying than French onion soup.

What is French onion soup?

French onion soup is traditionally made using caramelized onions and beef stock. It is topped with toasted bread and covered with Comté cheese, which is essentially gruyere cheese that is made in France. Provolone may also be added. Wine is often the alcohol of choice used in French onion soup, but brandy or cognac may also be an option.

While onion broth has been around for thousands of years, there is an interesting and somewhat colorful legend that suggests King Louis XV invented the recipe. One night, when the king was in his hunting lodge, he was very hungry. All he could find to eat were onions, butter, and champagne. So he mixed them together to create the first batch of French onion soup.

While that story may or may not be true, it does shed light on the essence of this dish. It is a wonderful treat that checks all the important boxes. Today's French onion soup is the trifecta of comfort foods. It is savory, toasted, and gooey.

What is Irish onion soup?

When you look up recipes for Irish onion soup, they aren't as well-defined as recipes for French onion soup. In other words, there can be a lot of variation in the ingredients. Some recipes call for mushrooms or suggest adding garlic cloves and brown sugar, for instance. However, when you get down to the essential ingredients, the ones nearly every version is based on, you'll find there are two fundamental differences between French onion soup and Irish onion soup. These differences are in the cheese and the alcohol. And, depending on your taste preferences, they can be even more comforting.

First, instead of gruyere cheese, Irish onion soup uses cheddar. When melted, cheddar has a gooey texture and a bold umami flavor. Young cheddar is actually best for Irish onion soup because the protein strands are longer, so the cheese will have a better stretch.

Second, in place of wine, a hearty stout, like Guinness, is often the go-to choice. The velvety texture and blend of roasted malt, cocoa, and coffee flavors can give the soup an even greater comfort-food appeal.