The other week we needed onions. I guess I’m still used to shopping for a family, rather than two people, so I bought a huge bag of them. They proceeded to sit in the pantry not doing much at all. I saw them one day and thought “I really should give French Onion Soup another go”. It didn’t get much farther than that. However when Smitten Kitchen had the same thought a few days later, she supplied me with the necessary instructions to actually make the soup.
It’s a very simple dish, but it does take some time.
There’s onion, lots of onion.
You let them steam for a while and then let them cook. They go all dark golden and slightly sweet and delicious.
Just looking at them makes me hungr, but I must persist. Once they’re all delicious and golden, it’s time for stock. Lots of stock. Then it has to simmer away for a while. To get all delicious and such. Can you see the trend here?
Some Gruyere cheese and some crunchy crunchy bread all toasted to perfection.
I toasted myself some extra cheesey bread because I was being indulgent. Whatcha gonna do?
You should probably follow her recipe to a tee. It was delicious enough like this, however I had no cognac or wine. So I had to leave it out. This made me kind of sad. I think they’d add a wonderful depth of flavour. I highly recommend using a good quality stock as it is a major component in this dish. I used Campbell’s beef stock, 1L normal, 1L salt reduced.
French Onion Soup
Adapted only slightly from Smitten Kitchen mostly because I have this uncanny knack to be able to follow a recipe and still not follow a recipe.
- 5 C thinly sliced onions
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon table salt, plus additional to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 L beef stock*
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)
Cheesey Toast Topping Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon grated raw onion
- 1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Gruyere or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard
To make the soup
- Melt the butter and oil together in a large pot over moderately low heat.
- Add the onions, sitr until they’re coated in oil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and leave them to sweat for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, take the lid off, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar.
- Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. You want a dark brown, think a really strong milked coffee colour. This develops the flavour and makes for a delicious soup.
- After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
- Add the wine in full (if you have it), then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Add salt and pepper as required, but remember the cheese will add a bit of salt as well. I didn’t add any extra salt and pepper to my soup and it was tasty! If you’ve got cognac, stir it in.
- The soup is finished! You can eat it as is but sometimes it is quite nice to finish it off and make it look pretty.
Here’s how I did my Cheesey Toast.
- Turn on your grill.
- Arrange ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet.
- Fill the bowls with the hot soup.
- Place as much bread as will fit on the top of the soup.
- Sprinkle with cheese of choice.
- Put bowls under grill with enough room to see how they’re going.
- Grill for 5-10 minutes on a medium to high setting. The cheese should be melted and slightly bubbly, and perhaps a little brown if you like your cheese like that. I do.
- Serve immediately.
*To make this vegetarian, use a porcini or mushroom stock.