One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

French Onion Soup

When the weather is blistering, cold soups, like gazpacho and fruit soups are refreshing and the perfect light meal.  But when the temperatures start to drop, my thoughts turn toward heartier fare.  I make a mental list of all the wonderful soups I want to make.  Clam chowder and potato soup.  Squash soups.  And this one.  French Onion Soup.  It took me a moment, but I realized I've never made French Onion Soup before.  I often order this soup when I'm out, but why I've never cooked up a batch myself escapes me!

Of course, my first foray into French Onion Soup making meant I had to follow the master:  Julia Child.  Julia has you sweat the onions for about 10 minutes, then caramelize them, creating a rich depth of flavor in the soup.  Now we all know how much Mrs. Child loved her butter. And, truth be told, so do I.  But I have to admit that I found the call for 1/2 cup of butter to cook the onions in a bit much.  I didn't question the recipe when first making it but made a note that the recipe could easily reduce the amount of butter by half and still be delicious.

And then I realized she said 1/2 stick of butter.   Duh.  Thankfully, I had used a bit more onion than the recipe called for.  But, of course, the soup was still a bit... shall we say, buttery.  Overnight in the fridge rendered the excess butter easy to remove.  *whew*

As I've been guilty of doing a bit lately, I thought I had some beef stock in the pantry and was mistaken.  Thankfully, I did have chicken stock, and after perusing a few other recipes online, decided that it would make a decent substitution. Since the recipe also calls for a a glug of Cognac and a cup of white wine, as well as a long (1-1/2 hours) simmer, I knew the soup would definitely develop a great flavor.  And it did.  The flavor is obviously a little different but still very good.

A crouton made from some homemade French bread, along with a healthy sprinkling of grated Gruyere, and a run under the broiler produced the very soup I was craving.  Ah.  Thank you once again, Julia!

French Onion Soup

1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2-1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
8 cups homemade beef stock, or good quality store bought stock (or chicken stock, in a pinch)
1/4 cup Cognac, or other good brandy
1 cup dry white wine
8 (1/2-inch) thick slices of French bread, toasted
3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyere

Heat a heavy saucepan over moderate heat with the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, stir in the onions, cover, and cook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, increase the heat to medium high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour and cook slowly, stirring, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a moment, then whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. When well blended, bring to the simmer, adding the rest of the stock, Cognac, and wine. Cover loosely, and simmer very slowly 1 1/2 hours, adding a little water if the liquid reduces too much. Taste for seasoning

Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof bowls. Arrange toast on top of soup and sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and place under a preheated broiler until cheese melts and forms a crust over the tops of the bowls. Serve immediately.


a quiet life said...

yum yum yum my favorite soup and i am starving!

La Table De Nana said...

Isn't it THE BEST?

I could just hear Julia saying DU BEURRE..

How I loved her voice..
I know a different voice..but how I loved it.

So glad I bought the movie..

Your soup looks amazing..and your story cute too:)

Designs on 47th Street said...

Ummm, this is one soup I have never made. I just may have to try your (ahhh Julia's) version. :) Looks divine!


Thibeault's Table said...

Lori, your soup looks sooooooo good. I think I would really like your version with the chicken broth. Wish I was eating a bowl right about now.


Holly said...

Looks so cheesy and delish!!

Allison said...

This looks SO GOOD. I've been wanting to make French Onion Soup for a while now. The lack of decent soup crocks has been holding me back. May I ask where you found yours? They look perfect for the task!

I've started a new food blogging group that celebrates the printed cookbook. I'd love it if you joined us. It should be lots of fun--and doesn't have any strict rules like so many other blogging groups. Just sharing and having fun together.

Thank you for a great post.

Lori (All That Splatters) said...

Thank you all! Monique, I love the sound of Julia's voice, too! I could just hear her telling me I should have made sure I read thoroughly through that recipe before making it! :D

Allison, my sister bought those for me many years ago. I did find something similar at Bed, Bath & Beyond: Hope that helps!

I'll be looking into your site. That sounds like something I would enjoy! Thank you!


BumbleVee said...

looks yummy and sounds great...

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

It's such a chilly day...a bowl of your soup would be outstanding! Looks wonderful!

Rich said...

French onion soup is my favorite in the world, and this looks absolutely perfect. I just wish I had a cool bowl to put it in. All of mine are too wide to get the whole 'cheese over the top' thing going ...

Louisette said...

It good oignon soup during winter.
Greeting from Belgium, Louisette with two golden and one cat blue chartreux
page links golden , cattery chartreux+ my blogs

Teresa said...

Yum! It's a cold day here and this looks perfect!

cody said...

I liked this french recipe. I have been searching for a good french onion soup. The only change I made was to use Chicken Broth instead of water.

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