Saturday, January 15, 2011

French Onion Soup

When I was younger I thought French onion soup was out of my league cooking-wise, and the only way to get my fix was to order it in a restaurant. But I remember the moment when my view of this delicious comfort food changed forever. About 15 years ago, watching Jacques Pepin with my family, he showed us that French onion soup is actually simple and easy to make. Immediately after watching him demystify things, my family and I scrambled to the kitchen to cook up a batch. Since then I have made this version of French onion soup hundreds of times. I love it! It is one of my true staple dishes, and since I usually have all the ingredients on hand, I can easily pull it together at the last minute.

Here are the ingredients you will need:
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups bold red wine, such as cabernet or merlot
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 rind Parmigiano Reggiano or Gruyère
  • 1-1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
  • French baguette, sliced thinly on the bias
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place the onions into a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan with the olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, and a light grind of black pepper and cook on low for 30 minutes to an hour until fully caramelized, stirring occasionally for even cooking. When the onions are a consistent deep brown add the red wine to the pan and scrape off all the caramelized brown bits of onion goodness that have stuck to the sauté pan, a process called de-glazing. Next add the chicken stock, thyme sprigs, and parmigiano or Gruyère rinds. (Don't throw away those hard cheese rinds - freeze them to use in soups or stews, as it's is a great way to add some richness and depth of flavor!) Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.

In the meantime, slice the baguette and place on a sheet pan in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until golden and crisp. Once the soup has reduced and the flavors have melded together, season with salt and pepper to taste. Distribute the onions and broth evenly into oven-safe soup bowls and top with 1-2 baguette crisps and a generous helping of cheese. Place the soup bowls on a sheet pan (line with aluminum foil for easy clean-up) and then back into the oven under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Watch the soup closely, as the cheese may burn quickly. Once done remove everything from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Serve with a salad and some more tasty toasty baguette slices. C'est magnifique!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much! It worked well! Your photographs and detailed directions (ex. what deglazing is) really helped. I was able to make it with my two sons!