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Hearty Fare for Winter Meals

Guinness onion soup.

Recipes / By Margaret M. Johnson

Nothing warms the heart in winter more than hearty soups and wholesome stews. I love Irish Stew, which is made with lamb, but you can’t beat the flavor of this hearty beef stew enriched with Ireland’s favorite drink, Guinness Stout. Onion soup gets a makeover with Guinness, too, and for a lighter stew, the cobbler uses ale, such as Smithwick’s. They’re all great make-ahead dishes for January and February nights and only need a simple salad to complete the meal.

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2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 pounds boneless chuck beef, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

4 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-salt beef broth

1 (11-ounce) bottle Guinness draught

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoons raisins


Ground black pepper

5 large carrots, thickly sliced

4 large parsnips, thickly sliced

1 medium turnip, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Boiled new potatoes, for serving

1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and butter.

2. Dredge beef in flour. Working in batches, cook meat on all sides for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until evenly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a plate. Add onions to pan; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Stir in tomato paste, broth and Guinness, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Return meat to pan; stir in caraway seeds and raisins. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender. Add carrots, parsnips and turnips; cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables and meat are tender and stew is thickened.

5. To serve, ladle stew into shallow bowls, sprinkle with parsley; serve with potatoes.




2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck or round, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 (12-ounce) bottle Irish ale, such as Smithwick’s

2 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth

1 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 sprig fresh thyme


2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard


Ground black pepper

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 cup shredded Dubliner cheese

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

2/3 cups water

1 tablespoon milk, for brushing tops

1. Make casserole. In a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in flour mixture.

2. In a large ovenproof skillet or 12-inch braising pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and garlic; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft but not browned.

3. Add beef; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Add carrots and celery; stir to coat.

4. Stir in ale, stock or broth, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover; cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until meat and vegetables are tender and the sauce is thickened. Transfer to ovenproof casserole.

5. Make cobbler. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

6. Sift flour and mustard into a food processor; season with salt and pepper. Add butter; and pulse 4 to 5 times, or until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cheese, Tabasco and water. Process for 8 to 10 seconds, or until soft dough forms. (Add more water, if necessary).

7. Transfer dough to a floured surface. Roll out to ½-inch-thick round. With a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 7 to 8 rounds; reroll and cut out more rounds to make 12. Arrange on top of meat mixture, overlapping in a decorative pattern. Brush top of cobbler with milk.

8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cobbler is golden and mixture is bubbling. Serve immediately.




2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large yellow onions, sliced

2 large red onions, sliced

4 shallots, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

3 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth

1 cup Guinness


Ground black pepper


1/2 loaf sourdough baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup crumbled Cashel Blue cheese

1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1. Make soup. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, shallots and garlic; cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Add bay leaves, basil, thyme, brown sugar, stock or broth and Guinness. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes, or until onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Make croutons. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Put bread cubes in a large bowl; toss with olive oil. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet; bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove from oven.

3. Preheat broiler. Arrange eight flameproof crocks on a baking sheet. Ladle soup into crocks. Top with croutons; sprinkle with blue cheese. Place under broiler 4 inches from heat source; broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese melts and browns. Remove from oven; sprinkle with parsley and chives. Using oven mitts to protect your hands, place a crock in center of a serving plate; serve immediately.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page also includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of her latest cookbook “Teatime in Ireland,” visit