French Onion Soup
Whenever my daughter saw French Onion Soup on the menu, she ordered it. She was completely unaware, but it usually made my husband cringe. As young children, we encouraged them to order for themselves in restaurants. Served us right, I guess because although she professed to love French Onion Soup, she really only liked the soup-soaked bread topped with all that cheese. Who could blame her?
So yummy, cheesy, tasty soup-soaked bread gone ~ let’s face it ~ the soup just isn’t the same. My husband, never one to waste food would eat the rest of the French Onion Soup (is it still French Onion Soup now?) because he found it impossible to deny her the soup ~ or pretty much anything else.
Yesterday we got about a foot of snow. Thankfully I had all the ingredients on hand for this soup because it was the perfect day for it along with a Christmas movie on the side.
The broth is rich in flavor with caramelized onions and just what’s needed (other than a tropical vacation) and for the record, my favorite parts are the gooey cheese and melted bread, too.
I’ve tried several different kinds of cheese on this soup ~ both grated and sliced but I really think sliced Provolone is best. It’s a simple, creamy easy-melting cheese without a strong taste or opinions of its own.
These are my ‘rules’ for good French Onion Soup:
- Rich broth with tons of flavor.
- Lots of onions so there are some in every bite.
- Toasted bread.
- Cheese ~ and plenty of it!
It’s an easy soup to make ~ slicing the onions is probably the hardest part. I read once that if you keep a piece of white bread in your mouth while slicing the onions, your eyes won’t burn and tear up. I don’t usually have an issue with the onions, so I’ve never tried it. My youngest daughter sometimes wears sunglasses when she cuts onions and finds that helpful.
Do you have a favorite kitchen hack for slicing onions?
Whatever your method of slicing onions, you can’t get around it for this recipe. The soup needs lots of onions. Just don’t slice them paper thin. They shrink in the caramelization process and if they’re too thin, they’ll almost disappear.
Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil and the onions. Grate in the garlic and add the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Season generously with salt, pepper and a little brown sugar which helps the caramelization process.
This is the start of the caramelization process.
When it reaches this point, I let it cook another 5 minutes.
Total time for caramelizing is about 30-40 minutes. After the onions are caramelized, add the tomato paste and Worcestershire, blending. Simmer about 3-5 minutes.
Pour in the wine and using a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown/flavors bits from the bottom of the pot then simmer 5-7 minutes until the wine is reduced. Take the thyme sprigs and bay leaf out and sprinkle the flour over the top. Blend and cook over low heat about 5 minutes.
Pour in the beef stock giving it a good stir, then simmer 15-20 minutes. Taste and if necessary, add a bit more salt. Meanwhile, place the sliced bread or baguette on a baking sheet. Spray one side of the slices with cooking spray and broil just a minute or two until golden brown. Watch carefully; I have actually lit them on fire ~ not a pretty sight.
Place the oven-safe bowls on a foil-lined baking sheet, then ladle the soup in. Float the toasted bread on top, toasted side down, then add the cheese (at least one slice per bowl) and slide the baking sheet under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly golden on top. Enjoy!
- 1 – stick of butter, cut in thirds
- 2 – tablespoons of olive oil
- 6 – large onions, sliced (or about 6-7 cups of sliced onions)
- 2 – cloves of garlic, grated
- 1 - teaspoon of sugar
- 1 - tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 – tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 – bay leaf
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, whole
- 1/2 – cup of red wine (not sweet)
- 6 cups of good quality beef stock
- 2 - heaping teaspoons of flour
- 1 – baguette or loaf of French bread, sliced
- Cooking spray (olive oil preferred)
- 2 - slices of Provolone cheese per bowl of soup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the olive oil, blending, then drop in the onions.
- Grate in the garlic, then add the bay leaf, thyme springs and generously season with salt, pepper and sugar, which will help caramelize the onions.
- Cook about 30-45 minutes or until the onions are caramelized.
- Add the tomato paste and Worcestershire, blending and cook 3-5 minutes.
- Pour in the wine and simmer 5-7 minutes until the wine is reduced.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and sprinkle the flour over the top.
- Blend and cook over low heat about 5 minutes.
- Blend in the broth and continue simmering 15-20 minutes.
- Taste and if necessary, add another pinch of salt.
- Meanwhile, slice the baguette and place the slices on a baking sheet.
- Spray one side of the baguette or bread slices with cooking spray and broil just a minute or two golden brown.
- Place the bowls or ramekins on the baking sheet and ladle the soup in.
- Float the bread on top and add the cheese slices (1-2 depending on the size of the bowls)
- Return to the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly golden on top. Serve immediately.