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Caramelized Onion and Beer Cheese Soup

Caramelized Onion and Beer Cheese Soup- Sweet onions, smoky cheese, and light beer combine for a rich and creamy soup that’s perfect for fall.

October 30, 2023 by Nicole Collins

Today, we’re making Caramelized Onion and Beer Cheese Soup!

This soup has been on my brain since I first made Cheddar Chowder over two years ago. I really wanted to take the same concept, which to this day I still can’t believe works, swap water for beer, and make a fall soup that gives Oktoberfest vibes. And guess what? That’s exactly how this turned out, so that’s what we’re making today!

Let’s start with pot number one. We’re going to take some kielbasa (I like turkey kielbasa), slice it on the bias, and toss it in a heavy bottomed skillet for a few minutes to get a little color and caramelization. Then, we’ll pull the sausage out of the pot and set it aside for a few. We’re not only using the kielbasa to add a little flavor to the base of our soup, we’re also going to use it for garnish.

After we pull out the sausage, we’re going to add some butter and sliced onions to the same pot. Now true caramelized onions should go low and slow. But, we don’t have time for all of that. So we’re going to cheat a little bit by raising the heat and letting these onions saute only for about 10 mins until they start to darken in color. Don’t worry, we’ll still get every last bit of sweet, rich flavors out of those onions.

Now it’s time to add some liquid to the pot. First up, chicken stock. I’ve recently been experimenting with Better than Bouillon which is a bouillon paste, and I’m really really loving it. I love that you can make exactly as much chicken stock with it as you need without having to worry about waste or what to do with the leftovers from a can or a box. So for this, I’m using roasted chicken Better than Bouillon and boiling water to make chicken stock. But, if you already have a cup of regular ol’ chicken stock, you can feel free to use that, of course.

We’re also going to add some beer to the soup, because that’s where this whole idea started after all. Here are some important things to note. One, use a beer that you like. You can taste it in the soup, so don’t use this as your opportunity to use up something you bought but weren’t in to. Two, we have to use a light beer for this. If you use anything darker than an ale, you’ll regret it. Heat tends to highlight the bitterness in darker beers, and bitter is not the vibe we’re going for here. A lager or ale is what you want to stick to, for sure.

We’ll let the onions simmer in the liquid with a little seasoned salt and pepper for a few minutes. And now, we can get working on pot number two. Pot number two will hold our cheese sauce, so we’re going to start by cooking some flour in some melted butter for a minute or two. We’ll whisk in some milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder; then let that simmer for a couple minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Once the milk sauce has thickened, it’s time for the cheese. We’re going to add in equal parts of sharp cheddar and smoked gouda cheese, and stir those both until they melt into the sauce. Let me just say one thing though, this combo of cheese is superb. Chef’s kiss.

This is where it gets crazy. But guess what, it still works! We’re going to take our cheese sauce and mix it right into the pot with our beer and onions. Take it off the heat, and stir stir stir until it’s all combined. To thicken up the soup, we’ll use an immersion blender to blend up those onions, and our soup becomes the most decadent, rich, creamy consistency. And that’s it. We’re ready to eat!

To serve, we’ll scoop our soup into our favorite soup bowl, top it with that reserved kielbasa that we started this project with, then finish the soup with some French fried onions for crunch and some fresh minced chives for color. And let me tell you, that first bite is such an experience.

This is soup is rich and smoky. It’s sharp and slightly sweet. It’s meaty and warm and comforting. It’s just a big ol’ hug for your stomach. My bestie is not a fan of smoky cheeses…I know, I still love her though. So when I had her test this for me, I was expecting a lower score from her based on that alone. But, I was wrong. She loved it! So if that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about this soup, I don’t know what else I can say to convince you to make this immediately.

Ok, everyone! Every good soup has some kind of carby dipper on the side, so I think that’s what we should make next. What do you think?

I hope you guys enjoy. And, let’s eat!


Caramelized Onion and Beer Cheese Soup

Serves: 4 Print


  • 4 oz turkey kielbasa, sliced

  • 1 tbsp + 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 1 cup boiling water

  • ½ tsp Better the Bouillon roasted chicken base

  • 1 cup light beer (such as lager or ale)

  • 1 tsp seasoned salt

  • ¼ + ¼ tsp pepper, divided

  • ¼ cup flour

  • 2 cups milk (I used 1 %)

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

  • 4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  • 4 oz smoked gouda, shredded

  • French fried onions and minced chives, for garnish


  1. To a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium high heat, add turkey kielbasa slices. Cook for 3-4 mins per side until lightly browned. Remove from pot, and set aside on a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.

  2. Add 1 tbsp butter and onions to the pot. Saute for 9-10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned and lightly caramelized. Mix bouillon into boiling water, and stir until completely combined. Add to the pot along with the beer, seasoned salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, but let pot stay on the burner.

  3. Meanwhile, heat 4 tbsp butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until fully incorporated, and cook for 1 min. Whisk in milk, salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and garlic powder until smooth. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently, and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the milk sauce has thickened.

  4. Add both cheeses to the milk sauce. Stir until the cheese is fully melted. Pour the cheese sauce into the first pot with the beer mix, and stir until fully incorporated and combined. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until the onions are incorporated and the soup has thickened slightly.

  5. To serve, divide soup between 4 bowls. Garnish with kielbasa slices, French fried onions, and minced chives, if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe notes:

*You want to use freshly shredded cheese for this soup, because it melts a thousand times better. It's important to use extra sharp cheddar for this recipe, because the sharpness of the cheese does add maximum flavor to this soup.

*I don’t recommend using anything darker than an ale for this soup, because it will make the soup too bitter. Use a nice, light ale or lager; and use a beer that you like to drink. You can taste it.

*You could substitute the bouillon and boiling water with 1 cup chicken stock.


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