My French Onion Soup – An Experience Best Shared

Onions, onions, onions

Many of us approach them with some caution. We advise our cooks to go light on them, and when we are cooking we – either for fear of spoiling a dinner for a guest or loved one, or just because of our own prejudice – are very careful not to go too  far when it comes to the onion. That was me when I first made french onion soup. I couldn’t believe the amount of onions the recipe called for. In the end however I was happy with the result. Here is my version of an old invention born of necessity; the best recipes always are.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbls of salted or unsalted butter (Go with your taste)
  • 1 small red onion: sliced thin
  • 1 small yellow onion: sliced thin
  • 3 large, white onions: sliced thinwhite-wine1
  • 1 clove of finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tbls of all purpose flower
  • 1 cup of white wine (A good pinot grigio will do)
  • 6 cups of beef stock or water (Go with the water – the stock is a shortcut that will turn this extroidinary soup into an ordinary one. If you want it to taste like Lipton then just save yourself the trouble and go buy the packet)bouquet-garni
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1-2 tbls of sherry (or to taste)

The Bread:

  • French Baguette bread cut into slices about an inch thick
  • 2 cups of grated gruyere cheese (Don’t be tempted by cheaper cheeses that you are more familiar with. There is no substitute for gruyere. Trust the French; they know what they are doing.)

Lastly:

  • Candle light                        candle-light

THE STEPS:

  1. Melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat. (I prefer a dutch oven.) Then add all of your onions and cook for about 30 minutes. Stir the contents constantly until your onions are carmelized and golden brown. Stir in your garlic and flour and cook another 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add white wine and stir until the flour has blended in smoothly. Slowly bring to boil while stirring perpetually. Stir in your water or stock, and bouquet garni. Season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. If necessary, skim the surface of any excess fat – though I doubt you will need to. Add your sherry now, not sooner with the wine. If you add it sooner you will not enjoy the sweet warmth that makes this recipe so special.
  3. Broil your slices of baguette untill golden brown on both sides.
  4. Ladle soup into broiler proof bowls and float 1-2 slices of bread upon each one. Sprinkle each bowl with gruyere cheese, covering the surface area completely – Be generous! Place your bowls in a preheated broiler and cook until the cheese becomes golden brown in color.  Serve at once!

Enjoy!

LOOKING BACK: Five onions will seem like a lot, but what at first appears to be overkill turns out to be just right as you watch them melt into the buttery heat. Be careful with the sherry. It is much more pronounced than the wine and can easily overpower your soup. Still, that can be okay it it is what you want. DON’T be afraid of overcooking the onions. Depending on the type of pan you use or the type of heat, it can sometimes take a while for them to carmelize. But it is critical that they do carmelize. The more golden brown and sweet they become, the richer the flavor and texture of your soup. This is an excellent date soup that should almost always be served on a cold day or night by candle light.

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~ by rimofheaven on February 17, 2009.

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