Monday, December 2, 2013

Nicole’s Own French Onion Soup

I dont like to brag, but Im extremely proud to present this French Onion Soup - the genesis of which came from a French chef, but which I’ve changed so substantially that I can call it my own. This is truly the best French Onion Soup Ive ever tasted. 

Some French Onion Soups have a thick crust of melted, broiled cheese that you can barely smash through. This soup uses not quite 3 tbsp. per-bowl, allowing just a taste of cheese and far fewer calories than soups with an impervious wall of the stuff. Rather than the usual slice of baguette, which I also find awkward to break through, I prefer to use plain croutons - unseasoned and unherbed

I’m sure you know how to make these: Slice and dice (a phrase I’ve always wanted to use!) a hunk of full-bodied white bread (such as a baguette), letting the diced pieces (hello, croutons!) stale overnight. I’ve kept thoroughly dried croutons in an airtight container for weeks with no problem. I’m sure you’ll agree that reducing the amount of both the cheese and the bread allows the fullest enjoyment of this wonderful soup.

By the way, I used my food processor to slice the onions and grate the cheese, considerably shortening the work required. I start this recipe at a medium-high heat, gradually lowering the heat as I proceed.

Nicoles Own French Onion Soup:

6 c. sliced onions
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 c. chicken stock
⅓ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. black pepper, finely ground 
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 sprig fresh thyme, left whole on stem (no substitutions)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. Better Than Bouillon or similar-brand beef base
1 tsp. gravy darkener such as Kitchen Bouquet or similar brand
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1 c. grated firm, ripened cheese such as Gruyere or a combination of Swiss and Parmesan, divided
¾ c. croutons, divided 
2 tbsp. fresh, snipped chives (or dried ones, if you must), as garnish, divided

Sliver onions using a chef's knife or food processor. Over medium-high heat, add olive oil to a large, heavy-based pot. Spoon in onions, lowering heat to medium and stirring frequently to prevent burning. Cook onions about 10 min., until they start to sweat and color slightly. Sprinkle in flour, storing constantly to ensure flour does not stick to pan bottom. When flour and onions are well combined, add chicken stock cup by cup, stirring and heating stock through between additions. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, beef base, and gravy darkener. 

Stir to combine, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 min., stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stirring in sherry. Serve immediately in lidded soup tureen or straight from the pot into soup bowls. Top with grated cheese, croutons, and a sprinkle of chives. Serves 6.

Twice the output, half the time: Use a food processor!

Frequent stirring prevents the onions burning.

Cook down the onions until they start to sweat.

Grated cheese: The food processor did this job, too!

Ladle out the soup ...

Add croutons ... 

A little grated cheese ... and youre ready to dine!

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