Sunday, November 15, 2009

French Onion Soup - The Conclusion

For those of you who just "joined the class", a few weeks ago I splurged at Amazing Savings on some bowls for French Onion Soup.
Between finding the time to tovel them, getting caught up in Jennifer's Bas Mitzvah and assorted other activities, I only got around to making the soup this weekend. Thanks to my friend (internet friend, not "eyeball friend") Brian, moderator of the Jewish Food Mailing List, I received a crash course in how to make the perfect onion soup. Hint: It has nothing to do with onion soup mix of any kind. Brian told me that the secret is the slow, painfully slow caramelizing of pounds and pounds of onions and he was spot on!

After three (!!!) hours my onions had taken on a rich brown color and amazing sweetness. The only additional spices needed were a little salt and pepper. A nice piece of crusty bread and my soup was finally ready for some cheese and a quick visit to the oven.

The finished product tasted as good as it looked ... and there were no bridge tolls involved ;)


efrex said...

Nu? Where's the full recipe? What, because you've already posted one in the past week, you think you've made your quota? Haven't we already established that quiche doesn't count? (*ducks assorted hurled objects*)

You had to link to that mailing list, didn't you? When am I going to have time to actually do work?

G6 said...

Brian's Instructions:
The secret of an onion soup gratinee (crusted onion soup) is the
caramelized onions, and plenty of them.

You really need to caramelize the onions. Really caramelize them, which
takes a quite a while and you'll need quite a few to start off with
because they will reduce in volume by about 90%. That is, one onion
will turn into a couple tablespoons, and you're going to need lots. I'd
start off with at least 5 pounds of raw onions.

Slice them thin, about 1/4", pole to pole, with the stem thing removed.
then put the slices into a pan with plenty of a bland vegetable oil and
sprinkle lightly with salt (to begin to degorge, that is, draw out the
liquid). You may need two pans. It doesn't matter if the pans will be
overly full. They won't be when you're finished.

Turn the heat on high, and toss/stir the onions until coated with the
oil and salt. Turn the heat down to medium. Cover the pans, and sweat
(braise-steam) the onions for about 10 minutes, until limp and stew-y.

Tun the heat down to low, and uncover the onions. Stir them.

Now's the easy hard part. Continue cooking for two hours on low,
stiring the onions every 10 minutes or so to keep them from scorching.
This is the key. You want to remove the water, and brown them without
burning them. This means low and slow.

They will slowly (painfully slowly), lose their water and fry in the
oil. As the sugars caramelize, they will begin to take on color and
eventually the color will deepen to a dark brown. Keep cooking until
all the liquid is gone. Just, as I said, come back every 10 minutes or
so and stir the onions to release any accumulated steam and to expose
other surface to the pan's heat.

They will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks in case you decide to
use them for other purposes.

To continue on to soup gratinee, remove the onions and place them in a
soup pot. Deglaze the pans with veg stock or water, be sure to scrap up
any bits and dissolve any film in them (avoid any burnt bits however).
Put that sauce into the pot with the onions, along with any other stock
you're making the soup with. Cook stock and onions together for about a
half hour or so, then correct the seasoning.

Cut thickish slices from a country-style bread and fry them in a bit of
oil to make croutes. Put the croutes in individual bowls or a large
casserole for family-style serving. Layer cheese on top and place in
hot oven (425:F) until cheese is crusted and browned (I don't think
mozzarella will crust like that, so you might want to take some grated
Parmesan and sprinkle it on top of the mozzarella before baking).

Notice this isn't a complex dish. There's no seasoning other than the
onions and the stock, and whatever salt and pepper it needs. You'll
see... if you caramelize the onions properly and use enough of them, you
won't need it.

frumcollegegirl said...

wow that looks REALLY good!

Anonymous said...

what other activity can we do for two hours that allows for interruptions every ten minutes?? I guess fold laundry on the kitchen table

G6 said...

... or catch up on blogs and blogging ;)

DD1 said...

Wow! I can't even sit long enough to read the whole recipe ;)
Looks great though!

Anonymous said...

oh my G-d I want some of that RIGHT NOW

Shosh said...

ok. im salivating.

Mikeinmidwood said...

Would love to try making it but I would never have the time.

BLD said...

Can you do it with matzah and be Kosher Le/Al Pesach ?

Yummy In My Tummy said...


G6 said...

Looks like I should be considering inviting all my readers over for Melave Malka.
(Would BLD reveal his identity for a bowl of French Onion Soup? Birthrights have been sold for bowls of Lentil Soup y'know ;) ...)

SLiM said...

did you just use water with the onions or a flavored stock?

G6 said...

SLiM -
Water or vegetable stock.
The onions provide so much flavor when reduced down and caramelized as described that you need little else.

Batya said...

It looks amazing, but I can't eat food like that. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

I am getting ready to make this yummy recipe.... what type of onion do you use a regular white onion or a sweet (vidalia)? thanks

G6 said...

Anonymous -
That's really a matter of personal preference.
I've done it both ways and I can assure you that either way, it will taste TOTALLY YUMMY!!!