Why I feel the need to make soup in August, on an 80 degree day, I just can’t explain. I am very specific about the foods I want. Like how when I crave chicken caesar salad, I want chicken caesar salad from Ya-Ya’s chicken, in Michigan. Because it is the best chicken caesar salad on earth. Or how when I want a hotdog, I really want an all beef hotdog, cooked on a grill so it’s all blackened, with ketchup, mustard and onions. Preferably grilled by my dad while sitting outside having cocktails and chatting.
So, French onion soup. Is delicious. Even on an 80 degree August day. If the heat gets too bad in the kitchen while you make this, you have my permission to drink another beer. You’re welcome.
French Onion Soup
6 onions, chopped (I used a mixture of sweet and yellow onions)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (not a single recipe I looked at called for garlic in French onion soup, but I can’t cook without garlic, obviously, so I put garlic in mine, you don’t have to)
1 tsp dried thyme, smoosh this with your fingers before you sprinkle it in, smoosh being a fancy, technical chefy term
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups beef stock or beef consomme
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
glug of balsamic vinegar (“glug” is a scientific term meaning “pour some in the pot, maybe a teaspoon or two”)
salt and pepper, lots
white peasanty bread
First, get out your soup pot/big dutch oven, and melt the butter in it. Then chop up your 40,000 onions and put them in the pot too. Then sprinkle in the thyme and pour in the wine and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Let the onions caramelize for a long time, 45 minutes or so. You can keep them on medium high heat, but once the wine evaporates/seeps into the onions, you’ll want to turn it down a bit, probably to medium, and stir them VERY frequently so they don’t burn. They should be a beautiful deep brown color. I forgot to take a picture of my onions at this stage, but here’s what they looked like:
Aaaaaaanyway. Next, pour in all the stock, and let it simmer, on medium heat, for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, taste it, and add more salt and pepper, probably. When you’ve seasoned appropriately, let it cook for as long as you want, really, but I’d say another 20 minutes minimum.
Now, about this “melty cheesy bread on top of the soup in an oven safe ramekin that you put under the broiler to make it all golden and melty and delicious” business, like they do in restaurants. I definitely don’t have any oven safe bowls, and even if I did have fancy chef ramekins, you can bet your heiny they’d be for creme brulee and not for French onion soup. So, I can’t do that. Instead, I did this:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice a bunch of the white, crusty peasant bread and rub each side in some olive oil or butter. Thinly slice a bunch of Gruyere and lay the slices on the bread. Put the toasts in the oven until the cheese is brown on top. Serve with the soup.
See? No annoying kitchen equipment required, and no soggy bread either. Win. French onion soup is delicious, all buttery and warm, and deep and oniony. The balsamic complements the white wine in this recipe really well, also. Many recipes will call for only beef stock, but the chicken stock really balances the beef stock, helps it not be too overpowering. The delicacy of the chicken stock and white wine match the richness of the beef stock and the sweet carameliness of the onions. Plus, anything that comes with cheese is ok by me.