Dec 7 2012

French Onion Soup Recipe

harvest-store-onions-800x800.jpg

First of all, let me say that I did try to photograph the actual soup, but something got lost in translation. The pictures were not doing this amazing soup justice so I opted for a nice onion photo instead. If anyone makes this soup and wants to email me a good photo, I would would love to check it out and post it, with credit given of course!

I’ve always loved French Onion Soup, but for some reason I’ve been intimidated to make it from scratch.

That all changed when I heard a great interview on NPR with blogger, Deb Perelman, of The Smitten Kitchen.

She’s a mom, blogger, photographer, and author of the new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

We have a lot in common, including the fact that we both aim to make cooking as simple and easy to understand as possible. She does eat meat, but her recipes are focused mainly around vegetables.

Whilst browsing her site, I stumbled on a few great soup recipes. I immediately tried the French Onion Soup, and it’s now going to be a staple in our house. Not only is it easy to make, but we all loved it, and it’s healthy.

Because of their phyto-chemical compounds, onions are antibacterial, and anti-viral, which makes them a great way to fight off winter colds!

I skip the bread and cheese, but I realize that’s a huge part of the draw for most people. There are great vegan cheese, like Daiya, if you are opting for a vegan option. This soup goes very well with a vegan Reuben!

Here is the Smitten Kitchen recipe that Deb adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) brown stock*
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)

To finish [Gratinée] (Optional)
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated vegan cheese
1 tablespoon non-dairy butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard

Directions:

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac, if using. I didn’t use any, but Deb likes to.

If you choose to add the bread and cheese. here’s how you do it…….

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. [Julia Child, in another era, felt that 1/2 cup of grated cheese could be divided among 6 bowls.

Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.

* Porcini or mushroom stock are a robust vegetarian substitution.

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