Tasty Tuesday: French Onion Soup

Today’s post will have to be a combination of travel and food. Don’t worry, I will still do a travel post tomorrow on the correct day!

One of my ex-boyfriends was a French Onion Soup connoisseur. He ordered it in any restaurant that had it on the menu, in search of the perfect one. Before I met him, I had never even tasted it, and now it is one of my very favorite foods on earth. I have carried on the tradition for myself of searching for the perfect recipe, and ordering it whenever I get a chance. I can’t remember if he ever found the perfect one. Maybe he will leave a comment here and tell us. I’ll probably never definitively choose my absolute favorite, because then the fun would be over. I will say that the best I’ve had SO FAR was, appropriately, in Gruyeres, Switzerland.

gruyere

Gruyeres is a cool little medieval town in French-speaking Switzerland. And yes, that’s where they make Gruyeres cheese. Which is the best cheese to use in French Onion Soup. There is a castle built in the early 1200’s. No cars are allowed inside the city walls. It sits on an isolated hilltop north of the Alps, in the foothills of Mount Moleson. I wish I could go back for the night just for the soup. The following recipe is the closest I’ve been able to find to the heaven-in-a-bowl I had in Gruyeres. It’s actually two recipes, because you have to caramelize the onions first and then make the soup. This is from Blue Ribbon Bakery in Manhattan.

french_onion_soup

French Onion Soup

Caramelized Onions

6 to 8 Spanish onions (about 2 1/2 pounds) 3 to 4 inches in diameter, stem and root ends removed, peeled and left whole
1 stick butter
10-ounce can unsalted chicken or vegetable broth

In a crock pot set on low, place onions, butter, and broth. Cook until the onions are deep golden brown and very soft—12 to 14 hours. Drain and reserve the broth for the soup. Wrap the onions in plastic wrap and store in a freezer weight zip-seal bag for up to 2 weeks refrigerated, up to a year frozen.

Sefton Stallard’s French Onion Soup for a Crowd

Aforementioned caramelized onions
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper, preferably white, finely ground
2 cups dry white wine or vermouth
Aforementioned reserved broth
toasted bread
sliced gruyères—about 4 slices for each bowl

In a stock pot, heat up your caramelized onions in a little butter. Add the flour, stir well, and then add the white wine. Reduce it on low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and simmer partially covered for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add the salt & pepper and adjust according to taste. Ladle into bowls, top with toasted bread slices, then with the cheese, and place in a preheated 400F oven for 8 minutes. For a crunchy top place under the broiler for a few seconds—just until some of the cheese turns golden brown. Perfection.

Update: I definitely had the worst local French Onion Soup at lunch today. I don’t want to post the name of the restaurant, but I’ll give you some hints: one word, a cheese, also a color. Their soup was somehow tomato-y, with tough cheese and little to no bread. I’d rather have Campbell’s with some half-melted swiss.

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9 Comments

  1. anishvshah said,

    February 10, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Hey!
    I loved your French Onion Soup Recipe… will definitely try this next weekend.
    Anish

    • meggitymegs said,

      February 10, 2009 at 6:48 am

      Anish, I tried to take your survey, but I got an error message on the third question.

  2. limeandlemon said,

    February 10, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Sounds really delicious .. Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com/

  3. yarngasm said,

    February 10, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Your photo is making me hungry. I will have to try out your French Onion soup recipe because it sounds delightful. I make a pretty awesome slow-cooker version, but sometimes I don’t want to wait 4-6 hours for soup.

  4. meggitymegs said,

    February 10, 2009 at 6:47 am

    yarngasm, I would love it if you shared your recipe!

  5. yarngasm said,

    February 10, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    It’s kind of a rip on Sandra Lee’s French Onion Soup from Food Network, but I changed a few things up. I like this one because I don’t have to caramelize the onions before throwing them in the crockpot.

    2-3 large or 5 small onions, thinly sliced
    1 envelope French Onion Soup powder mix (Lipton’s)
    32-48 oz of beef broth or stock, or any combination thereof.
    4 slices French/Italian bread
    Enough shredded cheese of your choice to cover bread in bowls. Gruyere, mozzarella, or Irish Cheddar work very well.

    Place onions, soup mix, and beef broth/stock into crock pot. Stir and place on low for 8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours. Your kitchen/home will smell incredible. Enjoy that. When the soup is done, ladle into crocks or oven-safe bowls, then place bread on top. Cover bread with cheese, then stick into a broiler turned to high for 5 minutes maximum, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. This should serve 4-6 people.

  6. meggitymegs said,

    February 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    That sounds great, and I like the fact that it’s quicker! I’m going to have to try this! Thanks for sharing.

  7. yarngasm said,

    February 11, 2009 at 1:31 am

    No problem!

  8. February 26, 2009 at 9:54 am

    […] recipes) Tags: beach, food, oysters, recipe, south carolina, sullivan’s island, tempura, Travel I’ve discussed here previously how I’m on a quest to find the world’s best French … I should probably mention this week that this neverending pursuit also applies to another one of my […]


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