February 27, 2012

French Onion Soup

My favorite food, hands down, is caramelized onions.  I don’t care what it’s on, I will eat it.  So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite soups is french onion.  Tons of onions carmalized until they turn a deep brown color, half a bottle of wine, and gooey melted cheese on top?  Done and done.

This is a lazy weekend project; after adding the wine and stock it sits simmering for a few hours to intensify the flavors.  I like to use a mix of sweet yellow onions, red onions, and shallots with a slightly spicy Shiraz (3 buck chuck brand works fabulously).  Sprigs of thyme leaves are tossed in with the onions, balsamic vinegar is used to sweeten the base, and Dijon mustard adds a hmmm what’s that flavor to the dish.  While beef stock is used traditionally, I only ever have chicken stock on hand in my pantry so this is how I’ve been making it for years and I love it anyway!

After the soup has simmered away, it’s topped with toasted baguette slices and shredded gruyere cheese, melted under the broiler.  This is the epitome of comfort food for me: complex reduced flavors topped with carbs and cheese.  What’s not to like?

French Onion Soup
3 sweet yellow onions
2 red onions
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 shallot
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups red wine
1 pint chicken stock (no salt added)
salt and pepper to taste
toasted baguette slices
gruyere cheese

Cut the onions in half through the stem then cut them into slices.  

Add to a pan on medium high heat with 2 tablespoon of butter and olive oil.  Add thyme sprigs, salt and pepper liberally.

Let cook until they are just past translucent and add shallot, sliced in rings.

Continue to cook until the onions take on a deep brown color.  Stir occasionally, ensuring an even cooking time and no burning.  Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar, allow the liquid to cook out.

Add the wine and stock, bring to a boil.  Then let simmer for 2-3 hours to develop flavors.  Check seasoning at the end of cooking and adjust for salt and pepper.

Toast 2 slices of baguette for each serving of soup. 

Ladle the finished soup into an oven safe bowl, top with the baguette slices and shredded gruyere cheese.  Put on a cookie sheet (or a bread pan for the single cook) to prevent spill over onto the oven floor.

Broil for about 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is just melted.  WATCH CLOSELY!

The soup is rich and flavorful, the cheese is melted to perfection, and a little snip of chives on top echo the onion flavors within.  Enjoy!

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