don’t ya just love a big bowl of soup when it starts to get chilly and all you want is your insides to be warm and fuzzy? me too. the other thing i love…the smell of onions cooking, point blank. that’s it. it is the best, and don’t try to argue me on this one, the best smell there ever will be when cooking. this dish, while not exactly being a 30 minute meal, is relatively simple and so worth it in the end. the key is to cook the onions low and slow my friend until they caramelize, be the turtle in this turtle versus the hare race. be the turtle.
french onion soup
what you’ll need (serves 4-6):
- 4-5 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1(ish) tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons of unbleached flour
- 2 quarts of beef stock
- 1/2 cup of dry wine (i used red because i had it on hand, white works great too!)
- 1-2 cups of swiss (i always use gruyere – it’s worth it)
- half a baguette, sliced into 1/2 – 3/4 inch rounds and then toasted until hard
melt the butter and oil together in large saucepan (4-5 quart) or dutch oven over moderately low heat. once mixture is warm, add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. reduce the heat to very low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. just leave them there, don’t touch it.
after 15 minutes is up you can then uncover the pot, raise the heat to medium low and stir in the salt and sugar. cook onions, stirring frequently, for 40 to 45 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown (if it takes a bit longer, don’t fret.)
after the onions are caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring a few times over the course of 2-3 minutes. you can then add the wine all at once, then the beef stock, a little at a time, and stirring throughout the process. season to taste with salt and pepper. bring the soup to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes. throughout the cooking process, please feel free to skim the top if needed (however…i usually don’t, and it turns out perfecto). add some more S + P if needed, but take it easy on the salt please as the heaps of cheese you add later on will add a kick of saltiness.
here comes the fun (and yummy!) part — the bread and cheese, aka my two favorite things in life. preheat oven to 325. arrange your ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. divide the hot soup among your bowls and fill it so it’s almost full, but room for the bread + cheese. dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it (i find 2-3 is sufficient) — any more and it will soak up all the soup. mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. i do a large heaping handful, but do as you please as you are the one digging into it.
bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler to hi. finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. grab pot holders, and serve immediately.
adapted from the best, smitten kitchen