Saturday, February 19, 2011

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup 2

French onion soup as always been one of my favorite things to order in a restaurant. Maybe it's all that melty cheese the drips down the side of the bowl and gets all stringy on your fingers, but whatever it is, French onion wins the prize for my soup favorite.

The other day I had a craving, but I'm without those nifty soup bowls that can go under the broiler. What's a girl to do? Just toast the bread with the cheese and plop on top of the soup, silly. Which works in theory, yes. But I still want my own set of nifty onion soup bowls.

A word about the onions; in my research, I found that Walla walla and Vidalia onions are way too sweet for this soup, so avoid using them.

Now, I'm told that French onion soup actually tastes better if you let it sit a day, and after experimenting with my own I agree. Make this a day ahead, and you'll have it all ready to go right when you need it!

Adapted from Michael Smith

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp oil
5 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
splash of water

1/2 cup brandy (or apple juice)
3 cups chicken broth
sprigs of fresh thyme
3 cups beef broth (because I didn't have all chicken, and it was delicious!)
4 slices of your favorite bread, toasted and trimmed so it will fit into the bowls
2 cups of grated Swiss cheese

In a large, deep pan, melt the butter over medium high heat and add the oil to it. Dump in all your onions and add a splash of water (about a few tablespoons), season with a little salt and pepper, then cover with a lid and let simmer away for about 10 minutes.

The water should evaporate; my onions had a lot of liquid in them so it didn't for quite awhile. Remove the lid, turn the heat down to medium low, and keep cooking the onions, stirring occasionally. They will slowly caramelize and turn a deep brown, over the course of about an hour. Give them some love because this is where the flavor for your soup comes from!

In a pot, measure the broths, brandy, and a few springs of fresh thyme. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat and then turn it down and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the caramelized onions and stir.

Let the soup cool and refrigerate overnight. When you choose to serve, heat the soup up on the stove and ladle into oven proof bowls, then top with toasted bread cut to fit the bowl, sprinkle with cheese, and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted.

Serves 4.
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