Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Soupe a l'Oignon, Pinched

It's been a soupy spring - very wet, a little chilly, great soup weather. French Onion Soup, prepared with just a sprinkling of Gruyère on a toasted baguette slice instead of the cheese blanket on the French classic, is a favorite of mine. I learned it this way from Mary B. back when I worked with her at Cafe Nola on Bainbridge Island. Mary made a vegetarian version, which you could easily do, too, by using a hearty vegetable broth (she spiked hers with woody roots and mushrooms for depth). I, however, used a beef base (a concentrated broth). I like the one I have now, Better than Bouillon, and you can find it in Chicago at Whole Foods and the Spice House. I'm picky about broth, and beef broth often disappoints. But this one is nice.

Soupe a l'Oignon
Print recipe only here

Serves 4

3 large yellow onions, halved and sliced crosswise
2 T olive oil (or 1 T olive oil and 1 T unsalted butter)
kosher salt
1 t sugar
1/2 t herbes de Provence
1 heaping T flour
2/3 cup sherry (white wine or cognac are acceptable subs)
4 cups beef broth (I used water plus a good beef base)
4-8 slices baguette, sliced on the diagonal
3-4 T grated Gruyere
Freshly ground black pepper

Prep onions as directed above.

Heat the olive oil (or oil and butter) in a 3-4 quart heavy bottomed soup pot (I used a 3-quart Le Creuset Dutch oven) over medium-high flame.

Add the onions, salt and sugar and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, still stirring every so often, for another 25 minutes or so, or until nicely browned and caramelized.

Add flour and stir well to combine, cooking for 2-3 minutes.

Add the sherry, broth, and herbes and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least an hour, uncovered.

Add a few turns of freshly ground pepper and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary.

Slice baguette and lightly toast. Grate the Gruyère and divide evenly among the tops of the bread, then return to the oven and heat gently until melted. Reserve.

When ready to serve, either place a baguette slice or two in the bottom of a bowl and ladle soup on top, or ladle the soup and perch the baguette slices on top. Serve immediately.

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