January 16, 2014
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it like I have but everything we do in life lately seems to be all about the new and improved, the bigger and better version of what has already been done. Most movies are remakes of classics, technology is something we all must have the newest version of and the old version is usually only six months old. Even restaurants and chefs have to try to do something new with the old and revered. Maybe I’m just getting older but sometimes I don’t want the new and improved. I want the classic, the thing that’s been tested time and again and can stand on its own merit.
I want French Onion Soup.
I could have done this the easy way and gone to some restaurant, but I don’t think even they take the time to do it right, as it always seems bland and tasteless. It’s a classic and deserves the respect and the time needed to make it wonderfully satisfying and flavorful. I turned to the one person I knew that gave it that respect, the one person that started us all down the road of loving food.
I turned to Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Don’t be intimidated by this book or the fact that Julia is the guru of fine cooking. She makes everything so simple to follow. She also uses wine and cognac in this recipe, so if you’re anything like me, you like it already!
To do this right it is a process. You can’t skimp on the time or the effort it takes. If you do you will lose the richness and the flavor it gives you. This is one of those recipes where you will again take the first spoonful, close your eyes and savor the deep beef broth, the sweetness of the onions and the texture of the toast. The only word you will be able to usher in a soft breath is “YUM”.
It’s that good.
Onion Soup (Soupe À L’Oignon)
- This is Julia’s complete recipe. She begins with a short note: The onions for an onion soup need a long, slow cooking in butter and oil, then a long slow simmer in stock for them to develop the deep, rich flavor which characterizes a perfect brew. You should therefore count on 2 1/2 hours at least from start to finish. Though the preliminary cooking in butter requires some watching the actual simmering can proceed almost unattended.
- 1 1/2 pounds or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 quarts brown stock, canned beef bouillon or 1 quart of boiling water and 1 quart of stock or bouillon
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons cognac
- Rounds of hard toasted French bread
- 1 to 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
- 1 cut clove of garlic
- Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in a heavy bottomed 4 quart covered saucepan for 15 minutes.
- Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep golden brown.
- Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes
- Bring the stock or bouillon to a boil.
- Off heat, blend in the onions with the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30-40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasonings.
- (set aside, uncovered until ready to serve. Then reheat to a simmer)
- Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Pour into a soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread and pass the cheese separately.
- Hard Toasted French Bread
- Place the bread in one layer in a roasting pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until it is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned.
- Halfway through the baking, each side may be basted with a teaspoon of olive oil or beef drippings and after baking rub each piece with the cut garlic.
- You may also spread one side with the grated cheese and place under the broiler before serving.