French Onion Soup At Home
Finally! Cooler weather! That means soup to me…and almost everyone else. The soup I see so many people drool over in restaurants is French Onion Soup. Trust me, the offerings vary widely with the restaurants. It actually makes me sad when this soup doesn’t meet expectations. Either a weird cheese like provolone-sorry this soup is FRENCH, not Italian-Gruyére is required here. A weak, wimpy broth-beef please. Crunchy, underdone onions-WHAT?? Or soggy bread.
A quality, classic French Onion Soup is not difficult to make. It really just requires patience and heat-proof soup crocks. Yes, you CAN easily make a superb version of this soup at home.
Classic French Onion Soup
- 2 lbs. onions, sliced thin
- 2 TBL. butter
- 2 quarts unsalted beef broth (8 C.)
- 1 C. red wine
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 slices of good hearty bread (no commercial sandwich bread please!)
- 5 oz. Gruyére cheese
- For the spice sachet: 2 parsley stems 1 bay leaf 2 sprigs of thyme 5 black peppercorns, cracked
BE PATIENT. The onions really do require 30-45 minutes to caramelize properly. This is the real taste of onion soup and the downfall of the soup in many restaurants.
In a soup pot (do not use non-stick), melt the butter over moderate heat, add the onions and a sprinkle of salt and give it a stir. Cook over a moderate to low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a nice deep golden brown-it will take at least 30 minutes. Low(temperature) and slow (cooking).
You will notice two things: the pile of onions has cooked down to about ¼ of the volume and there is a nice medium brown coating on the bottom of the pot. This is called a FOND and is where the soup gets much of its’ flavor. If you find the FOND getting too brown, add a couple of tablespoons of broth or water. This will keep the onions from burning. You can never fix a scorched flavor, so keep a watch on the onions.
Continue cooking until the onions are a deep golden color.
Meanwhile make a sachet by wrapping the parsley, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns in cheese cloth and tying a string around it. Set aside.
Lightly toast the bread slices. Set aside.
Add the wine and deglaze the pot (you can turn the heat up at this point), scraping all the FOND off the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine is syrupy and almost dry.
Add the broth and tie the sachet around the handle of the pot (so you don’t lose it in the soup), immersing the sachet in the liquid.
Simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the sachet and pour into heat-proof crocks.
Top with the toasted bread and Gruyére cheese.
Run under a hot broiler (if you like the cheese deeply browned) or bake at 375°until cheese is hot and melty and lightly browned.
Voila! You’re in sitting in a sidewalk café in Les Halles.