french onion soup

Whenever the days get a bit cooler, I naturally start craving foods that are warm, rich and comforting. Don’t you? A nice bowl of soup always does the trick and the perfect soup that came to my mind was the classic French Onion… so rich in flavor from both the caramelized onions and beef stock and so warm and inviting with the toasted baguettes slices topped with melted, bubbling Gruyère cheese… just the right slightly sweet, salty and nutty complement to the soup. It’s real comfort in a bowl.

Of course, this all came to me last week, when I actually felt cold enough at night to wear a sweater to bed. I wrote down my shopping list and picked up all the ingredients I needed. All I wanted was to cozy on up next to Anthony on the couch with a blanket and my bowl of French Onion Soup, but instead, what happened?
A heat wave came to LA and brought record high temperatures since records even began… way back in 1877! As Homer Simpson would so eloquently and frequently say, “D’oh!”

Oh wells. Stuff happens, right? I wasn’t about to let my beautiful yellow onions go to waste, nor my cave-aged Gruyère, and so what if it was raging hot outside? =P Yellow onions are so full of flavor; they caramelize beautifully and only get better with cooking time, making them the ideal onion to use for a classic French Onion Soup. So when life gives you onions (or in my case, when you purposely go out of your way to buy the onions), make onion soup!

I did just that and even though I normally wouldn’t care for hot soup on a hot day, it was just so comforting in a way that calmed all my senses. All I had to do was close my eyes and imagine a cool, crisp autumn day and poof! I was there… comfort and ultimate satisfaction in a bowl, indeed




PREP TIME 10 Min
COOK TIME 1 Hr 20 Min
READY IN 1 Hr 30 Min
   
SERVINGS 4

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/4-inch thin*
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons flour
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Port wine
4 cups beef stock
1

bouquet garni (made by wrapping thyme sprigs, parsley stems, and a bay leaf around the green portion of a leek leaf and tied together with kitchen string)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
   
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 demi-baguette, thinly sliced

  

EQUIPMENT:

Large cutting board
Paring knife
Chef’s knife (See the Guide)
Bread knife
Heavy-bottomed French or Dutch oven (See the Guide)
Heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon
Spoon
Ladle
Cheese grater
Oven-proof soup bowls or 10-ounce ramekins

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a large heavy-bottom French or Dutch oven, melt butter over moderate heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat and continue to cook the onions until very soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 20-25 more minutes. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook the flour for a minute or so and then deglaze with white wine and Port. Be sure to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce and simmer, stirring occasionally until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef stock and bouquet garni. Stir to combine. Turn back up the heat to bring the soup to a boil. Skim off any foam on top. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook down the onions and develop the flavors, stirring occasionally, about 30-40 minutes. Taste again for seasoning at the end.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°F. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on an unlined baking sheet and let dry in the oven, turning halfway, about 30-40 minutes. (It’s important to dry out the baguette slices first so they will stay afloat on top of the soup.)
  • Just before serving, preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into 4 oven-proof bowls or 10-ounce ramekins. Float 2-3 dried baguette slices on top of each bowl and sprinkle with a thin layer of grated Gruyère cheese. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and set underneath the broiler about 4-5 inches away from the heat until the cheese is melted, golden brown and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. (Alternatively, you can use a flame torch to melt the cheese on top instead of putting it underneath the broiler.) Enjoy immediately.

NOTES:

  • Avoid crying over chopped onions by simply brewing a nice cup of coffee. The smell of freshly brewed coffee negates the fumes from the onion that may irritate your eyes and cause you to tear up. A small bowl of ground coffee set next to the cutting board works just as well.

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