About French Onion Soup

french onion soup
I’m going to say something controversial here, so brace yourselves.

I don’t like that thick, gooey layer of melted Gruyère over top of a steamy bowl of onion soup gratinee.

There. I said it. I know most people adore that bubbly cheese crust, but I think that molten cheese situation is unpleasant and chewy and simply too much. It overpowers the fabulous sweetness of the soup itself. The only thing worse than the dense cheese barrier between me and my soup is the underlying layer of soggy bread. Seriously, what could be appealing about soggy bread?

But I love French onion soup. The deeply flavorful salty-sweet broth and the silky onions are warm, comforting, and delicious. And while I am no fan of the usual soggy bread/cheese crust combination, a few shavings of cheese and a handful of crisp croutons are a welcome topping. I like to serve up the piping hot soup and then pass around bowls of homemade croutons and thin shavings of Swiss cheese. The idea is to add the croutons to your bowl in the very last moment, so they retain their crunch.

As for the soup itself, the ingredients are simple. What you’re really dealing with here is some onions and some beef stock, so the quality of the beef stock is really key. Of course, as with most things, homemade is best. But I will admit that I rarely have homemade beef stock on hand (I do usually have homemade chicken stock, but that’s a whole different discussion). But beef stock in a can is pretty terrible stuff. It’s more or less just brown salty water. However, I’ve recently discovered that good local markets will often house-make and sell their own stock. And if you can’t find the real deal, there are some decently flavorful store-bought options. In a pinch, I like Penzey’s soup base.

This recipe freezes extremely well, so I usually make a double batch. Enjoy!

French Onion Soup
Serves 6

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11/2 cups dry white wine
8 cups beef broth
3 cups cubed french bread
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
2 ounces shaved Gruyère cheese

In a large soup pot, over medium-low heat melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring every so often, until th onions are very soft and starting to brown. This should take about 30 minutes. Be patient! Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, and wine and stir well. Add the broth, and increase the heat to medium. Let the soup simmer for 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, make the croutons. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the bread with the remaining two teaspoons of oil, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the parsley. Spread the bread on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until the croutons are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Top with the cheese and croutons.

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Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm  Comments (9)  
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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love the idea of adding the cheese in shavings! That would make it SO much easier to eat. :-)

  2. Agreed! Also perfect for those who are trying to be on the health conscious side!

  3. That is controversial. While I prefer the thick layer of cheese, this is a healthier option.

  4. I’m liking the cheese shaving idea but have to say that I definitely love that layer of indulgent cheese on top :P Your soup looks so rich and tasty.

  5. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

  6. Thank you! I totally agree. I love a little cheese, but that thick glob so many restaurants serve with their soup is not fun to eat. As you say, you can’t taste the soup for all the cheese and bread croutons they serve it with. Love this version, and it’s healthier too.

  7. Why apologize? you don’t like gooey, that’s fine with me! Like the French say “les gouts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas!” (don’t argue about taste or colors). I like your soup too, the main thing for me is to have a good broth, not some canned stuff.

  8. Oh I like that thick layer of cheese, but this looks fantastic as well!

  9. I find the idea of croutons to be the perfect compromise! It sounds fantastic!


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