January 23, 2010

French onion soup

Ah, French onion soup... I did not like French onion soup until I tried it again as an adult, and then I loved it. It's become one of my favorite soups and it's also one of my favorite ways to use up old bread. I don't really have a "recipe" I use - more like a method. I use whatever type of onion(s) I have (usually more than one kind), whatever sort of day old bread I have, whatever stock or combination of stocks I have, and whatever dry wine I have open... The below recipe is open to changes and interpretation. You really can't mess it up too much as long as you get your onions properly caramelized and sweet and you have the rest of the necessary ingredients. The below recipe will make about four individual crocks of soup. The crocks make a great presentation for guests as a started to a dinner or for lunch.

French onion soup
3-4 medium to large onions (red, white, sweet, -- or any combination you have), peeled and sliced into thin rings
1 clove garlic, grated
one tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
about 1/4 cup extra dry vermouth (or any dry red or white wine you have)
about 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 cups beef stock (or chicken or vegetable or combination)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
day-old french bread or baguette
about 1-2 cups shredded gruyere and/or Swiss cheese
butter and extra virgin olive oil for cooking

In a soup pot or dutch oven heat a pat of butter and about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir until coated. Add some fresh cracked black pepper. Let the onions cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the are soft and caramelized (about 45 minutes to one hour). Once the onions are finished, add the thyme and some salt. Then add your vermouth/wine and stir. Let the alcohol cook out for a few minutes. Add the
Worcestershire sauce and stock and let the soup come to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pre-heat broiler. Ladle soup into crock bowls (or any other broiler safe bowls). Place chunks of the bread onto top of the soup and then sprinkle a generous portion of cheese on top of the bread. Place the soup crocks in the broiler for about 5 minutes (until the cheese gets bubbly and begins to turn golden).

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