Saturday, February 20, 2010

French Onion Soup

Soups are great in the fall and winter, and very often they don't take much time or attention. This particular recipe has both instances where it doesn't take much attention and where attention is very necessary... but it's really worth it!

French onion soup can be soooo good.
This one is from the people at Cook's Illustrated... it's not exactly what was copied from the video, but more of an approximation. Notes were taken, and some of the recipe was incomplete. Blanks had to be filled in, but the soup still turned out very well.
The photo below shows the soup before it was broiled (I know, it kind of looks like chili, but I can assure you it's not).

This recipe doesn't include a million ingredients or things that might be slightly obscure- simple can be really great.

A few things to remember:

Don't be afraid of the onions getting too dark! That's carmelization and FLAVOR!

The onions will reduce down a lot, you may be amazed, and the flavor is very concentrated.

We always have Harvey's around here, and although it's not a dry sherry, we still use it whenever we need a little sherry for recipes. It is, of course, very good for drinking too!

You are free to use as much cheese as you like, but you really don't need too much to add good flavor. I love Gruyere, it's one of the best cheeses of all time, but French Onion Soup is not all about the cheese. Cheese is not even in the title...

Henri's French Onion Soup
serves 6-8

4 lb. yellow onions
3 T butter
1 t salt
1/2 c dry sherry
4 c low sodium chicken stock
2 c beef broth
2 c water
1/2 t salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme (1 scant t dried)
1 bay leaf

Toasted slices of baguette
Shredded Gruyere cheese (with some shredded Parmesan or Romano tossed in too if you like)

Cut onions in half (top to bottom) and slice 1/4 inch thick. Spray Dutch oven with cooking spray or olive oil. Add onions and butter to Dutch oven with 1 t salt. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from oven, stir, and bake 1 1/2 hours with lid slightly cocked. An hour into the second baking time, stir onions and return pot to oven.

Place pot on stove and cook and stir on medium-high 15-20 minutes. This will give you better control, and you want to get the onions to a nice dark brown. Add 1/4 water to deglaze the pan- scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Repeat this process of deglazing 3-4 times with 6-8 minutes of cooking time between. Finally, deglaze the pan with 1/2 c sherry and cook 5 minutes until the alcohol in the sherry evaporates.

Add chicken stock, beef broth, 2 c water, 1/2 t salt, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer on low heat 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and thyme stems (if fresh thyme was used). Ladle soup into oven proof bowls, top with slices of toasted baguette and a sprinkling of Gruyere. Place in oven and broil until cheese is melted and browned a bit.
Let cool slightly before digging in!


  1. I am very excited to try this! What do you think about using vegetable broth for a completely vegetarian version?

  2. I think it would definitely be worth trying- I've never tried to make a vegetarian French Onion Soup before...