I’m not a fan of summer; it’s hot, sticky, and—for someone as pale as I—sunburny. I spend most of the summer indoors, hoping for a cloudy day. For reasons probably related to my aversion to summer, I long ago decided that August is, in fact, autumn. And what does autumn mean? Soup, of course! Every year, I spend my late summer early autumn days making and consuming vats of soup. In the first week of my imagined autumn, I have already jumped into preparing my favorite soup: French onion.
I know that most folks consider French onion soup to be a red and white can classic, but it really is so much more. It is a simple but classic, decadent but inexpensive, fancy yet homey French entrée dating back to the 1700s. (More recently, it was featured in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) A restaurant must have for many, this timeless soup can be made at home with little more than beef broth, onions, cheese, and bread. Why not give it a shot next time you’re craving soup (or croûte/little toasts)? It’s “fall”, after all.
French Onion Soup
- 4 large Spanish onions, halved and sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch of sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup dry red or white wine (or good balsamic vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 32 ounces (4 cups) beef stock, preferably homemade
- 16 ounces (2 cups) chicken stock, preferably homemade
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon thyme, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup of shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese per serving
- 2 slices baguette per serving
- Olive oil, for drizzling on baguette slices
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large (preferably enameled cast iron) stock pot. Add the olive oil and the sliced onions. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until softened and browned, about 30 to 40 minutes. Add the pinches of sugar and salt after the onions first begin to brown.
- Once the onions have caramelized, sprinkle them with ¼ cup of flour. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flour smells nutty.
- Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup red wine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the wine no longer smells of alcohol.
- Add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 32 ounces of beef stock and 16 ounces of chicken stock to the pot with the onions. Stir until the soup begins to thicken.
- Add the bay leaf and ¼ teaspoon thyme to the soup. (Taste after 15 minutes and add an additional ¼ teaspoon if you desire.) Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Simmer for one hour, skimming any white foam off the top every 20 minutes.
- To make toasts (croûtes), drizzle or brush each slice of baguette slices with olive oil. Place the bread slices on a large baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until very crunchy and toasted.
- Just before serving, light your broiler. Spoon the soup into oven-proof bowls or ramekins and top with an even sprinkling of Swiss cheese. Place the ramekins of soup on a large baking sheet and melt the cheese under the broiler until browned.
- Once the cheese has melted and the ramekin has cooled slightly, place the soup on a plate with two croûtes and serve. (The croûtes are best after being soaked in the soup for a while. )
Makes 4 main course (or 6-8 appetizer) servings.
The winner of the Everyday Raw Gourmet Cook is commenter #5 better known as: J. Grab. I’ll be contacting J. via email to have him send his shipping details. Thanks to everyone who entered.