Thursday, February 7, 2013

french onion soup

I don't know why people are so afraid of making French Onion Soup. It's so extremely simple and delicious, but when I tell people that I make it regularly, they look at me with reverence and confusion all rolled into one gaze. But, why? It's just beef broth and onions... well, and melted delicious cheese. Well, I know why people are so afraid of this soup. There are so few ingredients involved that its at the same time complicated and simple. Cook the onions too hot and fast and you have sauteed fried onions, not caramelized onions. Cook the onions too slow and you die of hunger before the dish is complete.
Don't waste your time with sweet onions. Vidailas are nice and all, but you want real, rich onion flavor. When an onion cooks, most of the sugar cooks out anyway, so you're going to have a sugary and savory flavor regardless of the onion you choose, so don't waste your money buying the more expensive onions.
They key to good French Onion Soup is to cook those onions low and slow with butter and a little oil. Don't mess with salt and pepper and other spices at first- just slice your onions fairly thin and cook those bad boys on low for as many hours as you'd like. I've seen recipes cook the onions for as few as 40 minutes, and some that cook them for more than 4 hours. I usually go with about 1 1/2 hours so my total cook time is about 3.
 The onions will be soft and smell amazing- if you cook them for longer and longer they'll get darker and darker. At this point, you can add balsamic vinegar, you can add worcestershire, you get it. I go with minced garlic, salt and pepper- that's it. I want that onion-y flavor, and I don't want to complicate it too much.
Don't judge, but I use beef stock I bought from the grocery store. We don't eat enough beef for me to have beef bones laying around to make stock out of. This needs to simmer for a while, and keep tasting it as it cooks to make sure it doesn't get too salty. Now comes the time for cheese, the time we all wait for. I go with smoked cheese- usually gruyere. For the crouton, I used sliced of the farmer bread I made the day before. Broil in the oven until bubbly and melted, and enjoy! Well, enjoy with caution, because that boil with be toasty after being under the broiler.
French Onion Soup
3 medium onions, sliced
Pat butter
4 cups beef broth
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sliced smoked cheese
Sliced bread

In a large stock pot, add your sliced onions to melted butter over low heat. Cook onions for several hours, or until the onions are soft and caramelized. Add beef stock and seasonings to the onions and simmer for at least an hour. Preheat the broiler on low in the oven. Spoon finished soup into oven safe bowl and layer bread under sliced cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly but not burnt. Enjoy!