Recipe: French Onion Soup

Recipe: French Onion Soup

We are going way back to the archives for this one. Back on post 48 on Sour Cherry Farm, in January of 2006: French Onion Soup. I haven’t changed the recipe much, except I haven’t done the onion confit in a while. Instead, I just caramelize the onions in the pot. I still insist on homemade stock, though.

You start with four big-ass onions:

Just chop one nub off, slice a flat part on the bottom so the onion can rest steady on the cutting board, and slice it whole, so you get ringlets. Like so:

Follow my special patened method on How to Caramelize Onions.

Hot pan + sliced onions = head start.

Stir, stir, stir.

Soon enough:

Not soon enough:

See the trick is to blast them with heat to get rid of the moisture, then let them cook for a while on medium (stirring occasionally), and then slowly let them caramelize. They might need a little blast right at the end to finish up.

Next step in the soup: white wine:

Let it reduce by half. Then add beef stock and a celery rib:

Simmer for a while, about 40 minutes. Or go longer if you are enjoying your cocktail.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a slice of baguette and some grated Gruyere cheese:

There’s an old family joke. Sarah and I were in Paris, about to order omelets at a cafe.

I hadn’t cared for the last omelet I’d had in Paris; the cheese was a bit strong for my taste. So I timidly asked the waiter: “Quel type de fromage est dans l’omelette?” He glared down his nose at me, pen in hand, exasperated.

“Quel type de fromage?” he mimicked. Then he bellowed: “GRUYERE.”

French Onion Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large sweet onions (about 1-1/2 pounds total), thinly sliced (or 1/2 to 1 onion and about 1 to 2 cups onion confit)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
2 quarts stock (recipe follows)
2 ribs celery with leaves, cut in half
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fino sherry
4 to 6 slices baguette, cut 1/4-inch thick, lightly toasted
1/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese

Heat olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Dump in onions all at once. Stir, stir, stir, for about 10 minutes until they are about half the size they were. Turn the heat down to medium, add butter, and let the cook, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize.

Add the white wine and cook over medium-high heat until the wine reduces to about half, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, celery and salt and pepper and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and allow the soup to simmer until the onions are meltingly tender, about 40 minutes. Remove and discard the celery. Add the sherry and simmer another 5 minutes.

To serve, preheat the broiler to 400. Ladle the soup into individual ovenproof bowls. Top each with 1 slice baguette, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese, and place the bowls on a cookie sheet lined in foil. Heat near the top of the oven until the cheese melts and bubbles, 5 to 6 minutes. Carefully remove the bowls and serve at once.

If you need a beef stock recipe, here’s a good one.