Thursday, December 3, 2009

French Onion Soup

I have only recently come over to the onion side of life. I used to HATE onions. In fact, when my sister and I were little, on the rare occasions we would get fast food, our parents would tell us the chopped up onions on the burgers were rice so that we would eat them. For the life of me I cannot figure out why we never questioned that, it makes absolutely no sense. Anyways, I am now an onion convert, caramelized onions cooked with some balsamic vinegar to get nice and sweet and sticky and stuck in a sandwich was really a gateway dish for me, it opened up a whole world of onions, including this French onion soup. This soup takes several hours to cook, but don’t let that fool you, its actually pretty simple. The most labor-intensive part is slicing the onions, and the rest is basically stirring.

Start with 4 big sweet onions and slice them. It looks like a lot, and it is, but it will cook down a lot, I promise.

Cook the onions in your biggest pan for a couple of hours on low, if you can manage it, I tend to get impatient and turn it up a bit after awhile.

Once they look like this, they are done (today it took about 3 and half hours)

Meanwhile, heat up the broth with a bay leaf. You can use whatever kind of broth you prefer, or a combination. I do mostly the traditional beef broth, but add a bit of chicken stock too.
Before you wash the onion pan, put it back on the burner and throw in some red wine and scrape up all the oniony bits and juices that still in the pan and let it bubble a bit. Then toss all that in with the broth. Simmer it all together until you are ready to eat.

Don’t forget the cheesy toasts. Top some nice crusty bread slices with grated swiss cheese and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Put a cheesy toast (or 2, depending on the size of the bread slices and/or your fondness for melty cheese) on each bowl before serving.

French Onion Soup (about 6 servings)

4 sweet onions, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

About 14 cups of broth (I used about 8 cups of beef broth, 2 cups of chicken stock and some water)

Bay leaf

¾ cup red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onions in the butter and olive oil over moderately low heat for several hours until nice and golden and the liquid has all cooked away. Be patient, there isn’t much else in this soup so you really want to develop the lovely onion flavor, they will take awhile to cook but it will be worth it in the end.

Meanwhile, a bit before the onions are done, heat up the broth in a large pot and add the bay leaf.

Once the onions are done, add them to the broth and bring it to a simmer.

Deglaze the onion pan with the red wine and then toss that in with the broth. Add salt to taste. Keep the soup warm until ready to serve.

Cheesy toasts

Slices of nice crusty bread, one or two per serving

About 1 cup swiss cheese, grated

Top each slice of bread with a bit of cheese, enough to cover it. Put under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Place a toast on top of each bowl of soup immediately before serving.

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