French Onion Soup

2014-02-27 — 16 Comments
ART BY RICHARD T. PRANKE

ART BY RICHARD T. PRANKE

It’s a really cold and snowy winter’s day outside but indoors I’ve prepared myself an easy and incredibly comforting bowl of French Onion Soup. Started earlier this morning, covered and and set to low as I continue organizing, the delicious aroma that fills my home of those onions slowly caramelizing is deliciously intoxicating!

This easy soup is easily one of my favourite comfort foods. I learned how to prepare it years ago from watching celebrity chef Michael Smith make it on his show Chef At Home. This is what he has to say about French Onion Soup:

“This soup is like culinary alchemy: creating gold from virtually nothing. It’s amazing how much flavour you can coax out of an onion with patience. Taking the time to slowly brown an onion is one of the most satisfying things you can do in the kitchen. It’s the key to the rich, deep flavour in a bowl of true onion soup.”

Here’s how to make enough for 4 bowls, but I find it easy to reduce this recipe for just one person: me, as I’m the solo fan of this soup in my household. It is a comforting meatless meal that I adore. Inexpensive yet so rich tasting; my kind of meal! So let’s get our baking tray out and place our ovenproof serving bowls on it, and get started.

CARAMELIZED ONIONS

½ stick (¼ cup/60 oz) of butter
2 Tablespoons any vegetable oil (I use EVOO)
4 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced (love my mandolin for this task!)
A splash of water
A sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

THE SOUP

IMAG03605 cups of tasty vegetarian beef broth* (While Chef Michael uses chicken stock, I make mine with 8 cubes of McCormicks Beef Bouillon ‘flavoured without meat products’ plus 5 cups of boiling water)
*And here’s where I stray even farther from convention! Rather than deglazing the caramelized onions with ½ cup alcohol –brandy, sherry, cognac, fortified or dry red wine– and then the 4 cups chicken broth, I use only broth but prefer the richer taste of McCormick’s vegetarian beef broth at a stronger ratio than the box suggests.

A sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or about ½ teaspoon dried)

4 slices hearty bread, multi-grain (or whatever’s on hand; I use light rye since that’s what we enjoy in my household)

2-3 cups (don’t skimp) of shredded Swiss, Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese (again I use what’s already in my fridge and have found a blend of shredded mozzarella with some grated parmesan to be delicious!)

DIRECTIONS

For the caramelized onions, toss the butter and oil in a large heavy stockpot and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter – the oil will protect the butter and its flavour from burning – and then add the onions, a splash of water and salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover with a tight fitting lid. This will capture steam and help the onions release all their moisture. Cook, stirring now and then until the onions soften and become quite wet, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until all the water has evaporated. Lower the heat a bit and slowly begin to caramelize the onions, stirring them frequently. This takes about an hour. You don’t need to stir continuously, just enough to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom. Continuing to lower the heat will also help prevent sticking. (Please note that I’ve learned even half that time has delicious results)

The-Best-of-CHEF-at-HOME-Michael-Smith

Adapted from recipe in
The Best of Chef at Home

For the soup, once the onions are a deep golden colour and have shrunk considerably, add ½ cup of broth. Turn the heat up and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until the additional liquid seems to have evaporated. Add the remaining broth and bring to a simmer. Add the thyme, season to taste with salt and pepper and continue simmering for 10 minutes or so.

To serve, preheat broiler in your oven. Toast the bread to add flavour and help absorb the soup. Cut the toast to fit in your bowls; reserve. Ladle the soup into 4 ovenproof bowls; top each with a slice of toast (or two, whatever fits to cover nicely) cover the toast with an even mound of shredded cheese (be generous; cheesiness makes this soup complete). Place bowls on a baking sheet and slide under the broiler. Watching closely, broil until cheese has completely melted and browned a bit and looks beautiful! Using your oven mitts, carefully place each bowl onto a heat-proof plate and serve. Bon appetit!

16 responses to French Onion Soup

  1. 

    Sounds YUMMY! French Onion is perhaps my favorite kind of soup.
    Russ

  2. 

    Used to be one of my favorite soups. I wonder if it can even be done without the butter, cheese, and other cow juices?

    • 

      Hi Shannon! I’ve been busy at my other blog AND I’ve just discovered Pinterest so my hubby might be ready to send a Missing Persons report! Yes this is a fave soup but I have NO idea how to make it vegan my friend. Good luck with trying different vegan-cheeses and cooking oils. Gently caramelized onions in a veggie broth with vegan toast croutons would likely still be de-lish! I have every knowing you can make it so!

      • 

        Well, if I do manage to whip up a successful batch, you’ll be the first to know! I stay off Pinterest, same as Facebook. I’m rather cozy here on WP and don’t need another addiction to take me away from digging in the soil. To be sure, my husband would be happy to see me give up WP as well. Cheers!

        • 

          So funny 😀 and so true. Yes your southern weather allows much more time outdoors than I can enjoy (plus I’m not still busy with young ones as you are) so I can play a bit in Pinterest… but I am mostly cozy here in my fave: WP! Cheers, Gina

  3. 

    I think French Onion soup is my favourite soup…

  4. 

    Yum, this sounds great, and it is one of my favorites. I think I have all the ingredients on hand.

  5. 

    I love home made soups of all kinds and love Onion Soup…Thank you for sharing this Gina… and wouldn’t you know it.. I got out some of my frozen Tomato and Pepper Soup to thaw ready for my own lunch today.. I have saved this page among my recipe book marks thank you Gina.. 🙂 Sue xox

    • 

      Your homemade Tomato and Pepper soup sounds delicious Sue! Isn’t making batches of soup for the freezer so comforting? Such a treat to take one out and soon enjoy a bowlful of yummy goodness, practically as tasty as the day we first made it. One soup I make a lot for the freezer is Split Pea soup. It freezes beautifully. SO glad you enjoyed this post! Hugs, Gina xo

      • 

        It is Gina, we dug up some Leeks today from the allotment and tomorrow I make Leek and Potato soup as we use the tomato soup up 🙂 I will have to look into Split Pea Soup as we grow loads of peas.. and have lots still in the freezer. 🙂 Thank you for your recipe… 🙂 xxx Sue

        • 

          Oh my! Leek and Potato? Another fave soup! It’s lunchtime here on my side of the pond so I’d best go get after some good soup for myself. Always great to hear from you dear Sue. xo

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s