Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Classic French Onion Soup

Ever since I was a little girl, French Onion Soup has been one of my favorite dishes to order at restaurants. The rich beefy broth surrounding the tender sweet onions, but my absolute favorite part is the browned cheese that oozes and crisps on the outside of the bowl.  There are as many theories on how to make the best french onion soup as there are stars in the sky, mine is probably one of the most simple and truly celebrates the onion as the heart of the dish. There is no sherry in my version as I find it just makes the dish too sweet.  This is not a soup you can make quickly for dinner, if you want it to really work, it takes a lot of time and care in the caramelizing of the onions to get them just right, but the best thing is that this soup freezes really well, so make a big batch and save some for later.

Serves 6.

2 kilograms of large white onions, about 5
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
2 litres beef stock
2 sprigs thyme, stems removed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 slices of stale french bread, or baguette
2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

1. Prepare the onions by cutting in half, then slicing evenly.
2. In a large stock pot melt butter and oil, add the onions and the water on medium-high heat.
3. Put a lid on the pot and simmer the onions for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the lid and cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
4. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are a rich caramel colour. This will take between 1 and 2 hours. Note: the slower you do this, the better the results.
5. Once caramelized, add the thyme, vinegar and stock. You can also add 1/2 cup of red wine at this point if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Simmer for 30 minutes. Season as needed.
7. When you are ready to serve. Turn the broiler to high.
8. Add hot soup to onion soup bowls or oven proof dishes.
9. Add baguette to top of soup and mound with cheese.
10. Put bowls on sturdy cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan, and broil until cheese is melted and golden.
11. Serve immediately, be careful the dishes will be hot!

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