Monday, September 02, 2013

Triumphant return with French Onion Soup

Howdy.  Yeah, been awhile since I wrote here, blah blah blah.  I can't make promises that I will post again in the next year, blah blah blah.  With soup like this, who cares?!  I have made my very first batch of French Onion Soup.  I used a recipe that I altered a bit.  Below is my version:

4 lbs of sweet onions (Vidalias if you can find them), halfed and sliced
3 T butter
1 t salt
~2 cup chardonnay
10.5 oz beef consomme (standard can size)
10.5 oz low sodium chicken broth
10.5 oz unfiltered apple juice (cider if you can find it)
1 bay leaf
2 t parsley
2 t thyme
country bread, sliced 1" thick
1 cup Fontina cheese, grated

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat over medium high heat and melt butter.  Once it has melted, add a layer of onions and a sprinkle of salt.  Keep layering the onions and salt until everything is in the pot.  DO NOT COVER.  Covering won't ruin your soup, but it will take a lot longer for the onions to brown and caramelize.

Cook over medium high heat for 15 to 20 minutes before you stir.  It's ok if the onions begin to burn a little on the bottom... you just don't want them to turn to charcoal.  Keep cooking, stirring once in awhile (I stirred every 15 mins) until the onions are dark brown.  This will take at least an hour.  It took me a lot longer because I covered the pot and didn't have the heat high enough... the onions reduced in about 2 hours and then I uncovered and had to spend another 30 mins or so browning things.

Once the onions are brown and carmelized, add the wine and turn the heat up as high as it will go.  Stir frequently until the wine has a syrup consistency.  I judged it by dragging the spoon across the bottom of the pot and checked to see if the juice rushed to fill the gap or slowly filled it.  A slow fill is good.  Once it's at this stage, add the consomme, broth, apple cider, and herbs.  The original recipe called for a bouquet garni with fresh herbs... had I had fresh thyme and parsley, I would have done this.  I think it will improve the flavor.  As it is, all I had was dried so I tossed everything in.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, covered.

While you are simmering, use your soup ramekins and punch out rounds from the bread slices (now they fit your bowl... neat eh?).  Turn on the oven broiler and lay slices of country bread on a baking sheet and broil just until toasty, about 1 minute.

Taste your soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I didn't add pepper, and it was plenty salty from the consomme and the broth.  Once the soup is good, fish out the bay leaf (or the whole bouquet garni) and toss.  Ladle soup into bowls about 1" from the top.  Lay toasted side of the bread on top of the soup.  Top bread with grated cheese.  Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.  No time estimate here, just watch it and do not walk away.


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