French Onion Soup

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.

Soup Ingredients

  • 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

  1. Melt the butter and oil together in a large pot over moderately low heat.
  2. Add the onions, sitr until they’re coated in oil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover and leave them to sweat for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, take the lid off, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar.
  5. 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.
  6. After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

  1. Turn on your grill.
  2. Arrange ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Fill the bowls with the hot soup.
  4. Place as much bread as will fit on the top of the soup.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese of choice.
  6. Put bowls under grill with enough room to see how they’re going.
  7. 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.
  8. Serve immediately.

*To make this vegetarian, use a porcini or mushroom stock.


5 thoughts on “French Onion Soup

  1. Yum. Looks delicious! Another idea is maybe to mix up the types of onions used (ie: red onions).

    I’m off to eat lunch now, you’ve made me hungry!

      • Yum! Balsamic would be awesome. If you added it just after the onions had sweated, it might take the vinegar-y taste out and leave the sweetness. You could probably replace the wine with it.

        PS: Can you please blog Pasta Fagioli when you can be bothered?

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