I love French Onion Soup. Layers of flavor, salty, and the toasty cheese is the icing on the cake. There are many different recipes for French Onion Soup. This is my version. I’m sure you can all figure out why it is Midwest Style. Clues: beef, Kansas City
I cooked a roast the day before. Not so much that I was hungry for roast, but more that I wanted the juicy goodness from the cooked roast for the soup. No gravy with that meal. I will post the entire recipe for the roast another time, but just to let you know, I cooked a little 1 3/4 pound chuck roast in a slow cooker with beer (Kansas City brewed, of course), beef stock, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. That’s it. I cooked it all day. Resulting in the tenderest roast beef and beef stock so good I almost wept. Not really, I just felt like saying that. It really was good stock. On with the soup.
I first cut the onions in half lengthwise from root to tip. The, I sliced in scant 1/2 inch slices. That means, less than 1/2 inch and greater than 1/4 inch. It really doesn’t have to be perfect, just an idea. I remember when I was learning how to cook and someone said to slice an onion. How thick? Paper thin, like I use in slaw, or thick, like I use when making onion rings. It DOES make a difference. You seasoned cooks already know how thick to slice them. Beginner cooks need to know the difference. Then, cut the slices in half.
Into a heavy, dutch oven or deep pan, on medium heat, melt the butter and the olive oil. Toss in the onions making sure you separate the onions. Sprinkle a little salt and stir to mix well. Let the onions sit there for about 15 minutes on the medium heat. This will sweat the onions and remove a lot of the moisture. Lots of steam is a good thing. No need to stir.
Now, turn the burner up to Medium High. You will cook the onions for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. The onions will get some color. Not all the onions will be caramelized, but most of them will be. Yummy goodness will form in the bottom of the pan. Don’t try to scrape it off. We will deal with that later. Just smell the onions and watch the transformation.
Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. Using a wooden spoon, rub at the goodness on the bottom of the pan. (for you geeky cooks like me, fond would be the term for that good stuff) Turn the heat back down to Medium and add all the seasonings and the broth. Bring it up to a simmer and turn the heat down to Medium Low. Let simmer for about 30 minutes. While simmering you can get the cheese and the bread ready.
You can use any kind of bread you want. I like to use a crusty, hearty bread like French bread, baguette, or Italian bread. Just give the slices a toasting either in the toaster or in the oven. Break up into bite sized pieces. Place a handful in the bottom of an oven safe bowl. Then, ladle in the soup about 1/2 inch from the top of the bowl. Put a handful of grated cheese on top of the soup. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and put into the oven to broil. Keep an eye on the soup. Do not walk away from the oven. Make sure you keep the oven door open a few inches at all times during this process. When the cheese is golden and a bit bubbly, remove from the oven. Put the bowls on a plate and serve. Remind everyone the bowls are very hot. Enjoy.
A favorite flavoring product I must have in my kitchen at all times is Better Than Bouillon. It is a soup base that is found in the bouillon section of the grocery store. It must be refrigerated after opening. It is a paste of super concentrated flavor. I try to keep the chicken, the beef, and the vegetable flavors on hand at all times. I use it in soups, stews, pasta, and of course….gravy. It is very good. They didn’t pay me to say this. I just love the stuff! A little goes a long way. Back to the soup. Here is the recipe:
Gravy Company French Onion Soup
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
4 large onions, sliced, (white or yellow work best)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry (not sweet) wine, red or white
6 cups beef stock, combination of homemade and store bought
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Beef Better Than Bouillon
1. Melt butter and oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and salt. Let cook, without stirring, for 15 minutes.
2. Turn the heat up to Medium High and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. This should put some color on the onions. Deglaze pan with the wine. Stirring to get the fond from the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings to your taste, if needed. Turn heat down to Medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Serve in an oven safe bowl or mug. Place toasted bread in the bottom of the cup, pour soup over and leave room at the top for the grated cheese. Broil until golden and bubbly. Remind that the bowl or mug is very hot.
Toasted bread broken into bite sized pieces: French bread, baguette, Italian bread works best.
Grated cheese: Use any white cheese you like. Better yet, use a combination of two or three white cheeses. No matter which cheese you choose, always toss in some grated Parmesan cheese just to round out the flavor. For the soup pictured, I used a combination of Provolone, Mozzarella, and Parmesan.
Cheese Suggestions: Gruyere, Swiss, Provolone, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Monterrey Jack. Use what you like…..always.