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rich and warm french onion soup

Having returned from a cooking class called ‘French Cooking at Home” at Sur La Table in San Francisco, I was reminded how delicious a hot, steamy dripping-with-cheese French onion soup tastes on a cold day.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe Chef Michelle Harrison demonstrated to the class.  I added more onions, removed the herbs de Provence and added a little sugar to her recipe.  The sugar adds a light, sweet flavor and also helps caramelize the onions.

The “challenge” in french onion soup is the time it takes to caramelize the onions. Patience is required to slow cook them to perfection but the outcome creates a rich soup that satisfies any umami craving.

You can make the soup well in advance- a day or two before serving- and then just do the last steps (8-14) right before serving.

rich and warm french onion soup

Having returned from a cooking class called ‘French Cooking at Home” at Sur La Table in San Francisco, I was reminded how delicious a hot, steamy dripping-with-cheese French onion soup tastes on a cold day.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe Chef Michelle Harrison demonstrated to the class.  I added more onions, removed the herbs de Provence and added a little sugar to her recipe.  The sugar adds a light, sweet flavor and also helps caramelize the onions.

The “challenge” in french onion soup is the time it takes to caramelize the onions. Patience is required to slow cook them to perfection but the outcome creates a rich soup that satisfies any umami craving.

You can make the soup well in advance- a day or two before serving- and then just do the last steps (8-14) right before serving.

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Ingredients

Recipe serves: 8
6 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar
salt, to taste
black pepper, good grindings
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup (125 ml) brandy
8 cups (64 fl oz, 1.8 liters) beef broth
1/2 baguette, cut into 1/2 inch (13mm) slices
2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
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thoughts&stories

Folklore has it that in the court of King Louis the XV at Versaille, soupe a l’oignon was known as “the soup of the drunkards.”  The rich, hearty and pungent taste of the soup was believed to cover the smell of a night of excessive drinking.  Not a great name.

Do onions make your cry?  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and slice up when onions are well chilled.  The eye-irritating sulfur released while slicing slows down when the onion is cold.  Makes for a tear-free process!

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rich and warm french onion soup
  • time
    1.5 to 2 hours
  • serves
    8
  • skill level
    Medium

Ingredients

Directions

1
Done

Preheat oven to 375F (180C)

2
Done

Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the butter into a Dutch oven or large heavy bottom pan over medium heat.

3
Done

Add onions and cook for 10 minutes until onions become translucent. Mix in the sugar and a good sprinkle of salt. You may want to add in a bit more olive oil to keep mixture moist.

4
Done

Here's the important part, caramelize the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan to remove the browning onions on bottom. It will take about 20-30 minutes of continuous attention.

5
Done

Once onions are nicely brown, add the garlic and cook for another minute.

6
Done

Pour in the brandy, simmer until all the liquid is evaporated, taking about 5 to 7 minutes.

7
Done

Add the beef broth and simmer for another 30 minutes. Season to taste. Beef broth flavors vary so you have to keep testing to get the right balance of saltiness for your tastes.

8
Done

While soup is simmering, spread out baguette slices on a medium baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush each side of baguette with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.

9
Done

Toast baguettes in oven, browning for 5 to 7 minutes, and then remove from oven. Make sure you watch the baguettes, or set a timer to avoid burning!

10
Done

Increase oven temperature to 450F (220C).

11
Done

Place 8 cocettes or soup bowls onto a baking sheet and ladle soup into bowls in even portions.

12
Done

Top each with a toasted baguette slice, and then add a nice pile of Gruyere cheese.

13
Done

Put in oven on the broil setting and melt cheese until bubbling.

14
Done

Place each onion soup onto a small salad or dessert plate with a soup spoon and serve piping hot.

ideas&gadgets

the perfect cocette
le creuset cocettes for soup, rices and vegetables are adorable and ideal for french onion soup. if these are a bit too pricey, a good option is a ramekin in a 5 or 7 ounce size.