Ah, French Onion Soup. There’s something about the simplicity in this tasty staple that makes it even more satisfying. When Monday through Friday we’re all running around, balancing life and our nine to five’s, we can find comfort in those dinners that just require a few ingredients and roughly 20 minutes of our time. From the buttery-garlicky onion aroma to the top layer of golden-brown-delicious provolone cheese. These “good to the last slurp” components are what keep us coming back for seconds.
When preparing my French Onion Soup, I prefer to use a variety of different onions, rather than just one type. I always suggest using fresh herbs, as it will really give you the depth of flavor you’re looking for in those broth-based meals. I’m a big fan of reducing with wine (wine makes everything better). Although there are no rules to cooking, I typically will use red wines for “brown” broths and white wines for lighter ones (i.e. chicken & fish dishes). However, whatever you have uncorked from the night before will work beautifully. I’ll often reduce with beer, too (same concept – anything you have on hand will work). Experimentation is half the fun! Do yourself a flavor and do not skip the butter. Bulking season is upon us, ladies and gentleman. Slab some butter on the bottom of your dutch oven, put on some stretchy pants and love yourself.
What you’ll need:
- 1 Stick Butter (I prefer salted butter)
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 2 Large Red Onions
- 2 Large Sweet Vidalia Onions
- Worcestershire Sauce (who else relies on spellcheck for this? asking for a friend…)
- 1 Cup of Red Wine (or “last nights” bottle)
- 4 Cups of Low Sodium Beef Broth
- 4 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
- French Baguette
- Provolone Cheese (Gruyere & Swiss work nicely, too…)
Pairs well with:
- Malbec or Cabernet
- Begin by gathering and preparing all of your ingredients prior to beginning the actual cooking process. By doing this, it will prevent scrambling for something last minute while the garlic and butter are burning on the stove.
- Divide your butter into sections (just to help the melting process) and slab into your dutch oven or soup pot (not yet turned on). Listen, butter is my religion and margarine is the devil. However, if you absolutely must….please just don’t tell me.
- Mince your garlic cloves and chop your parsley. Add them to your cooking vessel, along with the 3 bay leaves and thyme. Turn your stove on low and cover pot.
- While your butter is melting, begin to peel and chop your onions. I prefer to quarter my onions and from there, slice them thinly.
- Helpful hint: Coming from the queen of clumsiness, make sure the onion your cutting is ALWAYS flat side down. (i.e. do not ever try cutting anything round without first cutting it in half. Round things roll. Round things that roll while you are using a chef’s knife result in 9 fingers instead of 10.)
- Toss those babies into your dutch oven. Stir them, ensuring an even coating of butter. At this point, I like to grind some pepper on top before covering. Increase stove temperature to medium-low, pour yourself a drink, and relax for the next 20 or so minutes. Put your glass down every so often to give those buttery onions a stir.
- After about 20 minutes, or when the onions have cooked down to a clear, caramel color – stir well, ensuring you scrap up all the brown bits from the side of the pot (those brown bits are your flavor enhancers.) Add a few hearty dashes of Worcestershire and 1 cup of your preferred alcohol (I used Malbec, since that’s what I had opened.)
- No pressure to use any alcohol at all during cooking. If you prefer not to, simply skip this step.
- Over medium heat, stir and then let the onions cook for about 5 minutes or until the wine starts reducing.
- After the wine has reduced, add your 4 cups of beef broth, followed by your 4 cups of vegetable broth. I prefer low-sodium because broth can get very salty, very fast. I would rather add my own salt to taste once the soup is complete.
- Raise heat to a simmer and let cook for at least 30 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, grab your French Baguette (or whatever the heck kind of bread you like. There’s also ZERO shame in using croutons. zip, zero, zilch.) Slice your bread, toss with some olive oil and seasonings in a bowl.
- I seasoned my homemade “croutons” with garlic powder, salt & pepper, fresh parsley and thyme.
- Once tossed, lay them out on a baking sheet (non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper make for easy clean-up) and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350° or until desired golden-brown-crispiness (leave the oven on.)
- You can get as fancy as you desire with your cheese options. Go to the cheese connoisseur in your market and they can lead you to some beautiful Gruyere & Provolone. OR you can be like me and go to the deli counter and ask for a half pound of whatever’s on sale. No matter the cheese, it’s going to be delicious.
- Once the soup has finished simmering, begin ladelling it into ramekins or oven-safe bowls. Send the croutons for a swim and layer the top with a blanket of cheese.
- With your oven still heated at 350°, place the ramekins of soup onto the baking sheet you used for the croutons (this will prevent any drippings or melted cheese from falling to the bottom of your oven and setting those dang smoke detectors off.)
- Carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven and let bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted. My husband and I prefer our cheese a little crispy, so I’ll turn the broiler on high for a few minutes. If you choose to broil your soup:
- Check the soup frequently, those suckers can go from zero to burnt in a matter of seconds.
- This significantly increases the temperature of both the soup and its’ vessel. Proceed with caution and as Mom always says, “blow on it first, honey.”
I hope you give it a try and most importantly, I hope you love it!