Sunday, January 11, 2015

Easy French Onion Soup

It is forecast for more rain this afternoon and I am in the mood for onion soup. Here is
the recipe I use. You'll see a lot of recipes for all beef broth but I think that hides some of
the onion flavor so I like to cut it with some chicken broth. The key is to fully caramelize
the onions...they should be rich and dark before we move to the broth part. Sometimes it
helps to add a bit of white sugar to the onions which will encourage the caramelization.

It is believed that the original onions soups were made with just onions and water and it
was only the caramelized onions that brought flavor. Meat based stocks were a luxury for
the peasants. You can, of course, use water and or a vegetable stock here but I really like
the recipe below. Since there are only two of us I typically only make a half recipe so I
don't have to deal with left overs. I should mention that the only really safe bowls or
crocks for the broiler are stoneware or something like Pyrex. Regular old dishes might
crack. I have a special set of onion soup crocks that work great. Just be careful.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds thinly sliced sweet or red onions (about 6 medium onions)
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine (I use vermouth)
4 cups  low-sodium beef broth
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme stripped or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Half a good baguette slice into 3/4 inch slices on the angle buttered lightly
3 cups grated Le Gruyere cheese


In a large heavy-bottom pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sliced onions, salt,
and pepper and continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until the onions
become a deep golden brown and very soft, about 30 to 45 minutes and depending on the
moisture in the onions even longer. Be patient this is where all the flavor comes from.
Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. If you are using dried thyme add it now along
with the white wine and scrape up any fond on the bottom of the pan and simmer for 5
minutes. Add the beef stock and  chicken stock, fresh thyme, and bring to a simmer.
Cook for an additional 30 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Preheat the oven 400F and toast the lightly buttered bread slices. 10 or 15 minutes
should do just want them lightly browned but nice and crisp.

Ladle the soup into 4 to 6 oven-safe crocks or bowls. Top with the toast and a handful of
grated Le Gruyere. Arrange the crocks or bowls on a half sheet pan as they will be easier
to handle.

Place the crocks or bowls under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is
melted and begins to brown.

This recipe makes four generous servings or 6 starter servings

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