Friday, January 28, 2011

The best french onion soup I've ever had.

Tweaked from Cooks Illustrated.

Serves approximately 6-8

(depending on whether it's a large bowl for a meal or a first course, in which case it will serve more)

Takes 2-3 hours and a bit of patience, but is very much so worth it.


1-2 T butter

6 Large yellow onions, halved and sliced

Sea salt(or kosher)

Fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 c Sherry, or 1 c white wine(sub:soft rose')

6c Low sodium chicken broth(I personally use a big carton for both broths/stocks)

6c Low sodium beef broth

6 Sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 t dried, and crushed thyme

2 Bay leaves

1 Large or 2 smaller cloves of garlic, minced(or 4 cloves roasted garlic)

1t Worcestershire sauce

2-3 Fillets of anchovies or 1/2 t anchovy paste(opt)

1 French baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices

8 oz Shredded gruyere, swiss, or moz cheese, or a combination of any of these

On a medium heat, swirl some EVOO in the bottom of a large soup pot, and add butter, onions, thyme, bay, and salt.

Let onions carmelize, then stir and scrape up the brown bits. Repeat this process several times in the course of an hour and a half or so, until the onions get brown and cooked down. It's important that they carmelize. Sometimes it takes longer - just remember not to stir too much or they won't carmelize properly. Make sure you keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

When they are good and gorgeous, add the sherry/wine, and cook on medium until most of the liquid cooks off. Add worcestershire, anchovies, and pepper. Let carmelize again, careful not to burn. Add stocks, stirring well. Bring to a boil, then turn down, add lid, and simmer on low for about an hour. During this time, make the toasts.

In 400 F degree oven, place bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and turning crispy. If you have french onion oven-safe crocks, then ladle soup in them over two of the toasts, add cheese and broil until golden and bubbly. If you do not have these, then add cheese to the toasts and broil in the oven until golden and bubble. Then add to soup bowls and ladle hot soup over and add a bit of cheese on top to melt.

I love it as a meal with a light salad on the side. Enjoy!

(Note: some recipes will try to shortcut by adding sugar to the onions, and not carmelizing them - it is no where near as good in my opinion and a waste of perfectly good soup! There is plenty of sugars in the onions, they just have to be drawn out. An alternative to standing over a hot stove is using a dutch oven, putting the onions and herbs/seasoning mixture in the middle of a 400 degree oven with the lid slightly ajar and letting it carmelize for an hour and a half that way.)