Anthony Bourdain's recipe sounded good, but I didn't like the sour taste of it from the acidity of the balsamic vinegar. For the past year or so, I've used the recipe in The Food of France cookbook, which includes:
1 1/2 lbs. of onions sauteed in butter, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1/3 c. flour, 8 cups beef or chicken stock (I use half chicken, half beef), a cup of white wine, a bay leaf, 2 sprigs of thyme -- and gruyere and baguette for the topping.
Jacques Pepin's recipe for Onion Soup Gratinee from his new book Chez Jacques uses chicken stock only (homemade, if possible) and you can bet his homemade stock is pretty tasty stuff. I haven't made it yet, but the photo looks so good, you'll want to lick the page -- as opposed to what AB's poor photo looks like.
A tip from Jacques: He uses the traditional brown earthenware pots with the little handles on the sides. He says it's important to use slightly rounded bowls with a wide rim on the top, because grated cheese is pressed on that rim, hanging over the edge a little. As it cooks, the cheese sticks to the rim, which prevents the crust from sinking into the soup.
Here's my recipe. My version is good for people making this soup for themselves or for just a couple of people. I'm not the type to make a big pot of soup. I also use Maui onions from Hawaii because I think they're the sweetest. But you can substitute with other sweet onions. (Maui onions are a bit smaller, so you won't need three onions if your sweet onions are bigger.)
French Onion Soup
3 Maui sweet onions or 2 regular yellow onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T butter
½ cup dry white wine
1 14-oz. can of beef broth or 2 cups homemade beef or veal broth
1 cup water
2 T flour
1 t dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2-3 oz. Gruyere cheese
slices of French baguette
Warm olive oil and butter in a saucepan or pot. Add onions and garlic and saute for about two minutes to soften the onions (they should look translucent). Sprinkle flour over the onions and cook for a minute to get rid of the flour taste, then add white wine and cook for another minute to burn off some of the alcohol. Add broth, water, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes under the onions are tender.
Cut your baguette into bite-size pieces to create croutons. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then place under broiler for a minute to get a golden brown color.
When your soup is done, remove the bay leaf and then laddle the soup into oven-proof soup bowls. Float pieces of your croutons on top to cover the top layer and then grate the cheese over the croutons and bowl. Place under broiler until the cheese melts. (If not using broiler, place in oven at 400 degrees until cheese melts, about 2 to 5 minutes.)
Makes 2 to 3 servings. Makes a nice starter for a beef dinner.
Here's a photo: http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...
re: Karl S
Chicken broth can actually be harsher than beef broth (it's counterintuitive, but in classic French cooking, beef broth is often preferred for that reason), but in the end it's a matter of the quality of the ingredients, isn't it, and American supermarket chickens sans feet and head can make some insipid broths that taste more of carrot and onion than anything else...
But his method for using the electric skillet is da bomb. I won't even use my wonderful LeCreuset pots for this kind of soup after I learned that trick.
I learned my French Onion Soup from my mother-in-law as a thrifty recipe. You sauté your dozen yellow onions sliced thin (I use the food processor) in a good three tbsp of oil, stirring frequently as they begin to caramelize. When the onion mixture is dark brown to black (it takes a good hour), add two tbsp of flour, stirring constantly, to make a roux. Sniff to make sure the flour is cooked before adding the water (sorry, plain old water), little by little, until the soup is the consistency you like. Simmer for ten minutes (adding salt and pepper to taste) while you prepare your toast and grated Gruyère-type (Swiss) cheese. Ladle the soup into bowls, top with toast and gruyère, and pop them under the broiler until the cheese is grilled.
you will find a lot of passion about short and long time on the onions on these boards. jfood has a recipe that you can do either depending on your schedule and desire. after many attempts, jfood likes the 3-hour onion method. they come out buttery and extremely deep in flavor. Here's jfood favorite recipe.
¼ cup unsalted butter
6 large onions (about 5 pounds)
1 clove garlic increased to 3
½ cup brandy
1 cup red cooking wine
1 T all purpose flour
6 cups beef broth
12 (1/2 inch thick) slices French bread (Cut into cubes)
¾ pound coarsely grated gruyere cheese
1. heat butter in a soup pot over moderate heat. Add onions and cook slowly until caramelized for about 3 hours. the first hour will reduce the onions, hour 2 is when all the moisture will evaporate and hour 3 will begin the carmelization process.
2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.
3. Remove the pot from the stove and add the brandy and red wine.
4. Return the pot to the heat and cook, stirring occasionally until almost dry
5. Sprinkle with flour and cook for 3 minutes
6. While stirring, slowly add the broth
7. Bring the soup to a boil, lower heat and simmer with cover slightly ajar for about 20 minutes. Season w S&P.
8. Arrange a rack about 4 inches from broiler
9. Ladle soup into 6 crocks, place 2 slices on top and layer cheese on top.
10. Broil until bubbly.
I'm no longer sure where I got this recipe, but it's just outstanding. Even better when I replace the beef broth with demi glace.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 medium red onions (about 3 pounds), sliced thin
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Ground black pepper
1 baguette , cut on the bias into 3/4-inch slices (2 slices per serving)
4 1/2 ounces Swiss cheese , sliced 1/16-inch thick
1 1/2 ounces grated Asiago cheese (about 3/4 cup)
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven, add onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to coat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until onions are syrupy and inside of pot is coated with a deep brown crust, 30 to 35 minutes. Add broths, red wine, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, and scrape bottom of pot to loosen browned bits. Bring to simmer and cook about 20 minutes; discard herbs. (If you tie the parsley and thyme together with string it makes it easier to remove.) Stir in vinegar and add S&P to taste. Toast baguette slices in a 350 degree oven until lightly brown, turning once. Place heat-proof crocks on rimmed baking sheet and fill with about 1 1/2 cups soup. Top with two slices of toasted baguette slices and arrange Swiss cheese slices on top. Sprinkle each crock with about 2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese and broil until browned and bubbly, about 7 to 10 minutes.Let cool 5 minutes and serve.
Thanks for the source info. Must have picked it up off the Web and forgot to make note of it. And now that you mention it, I think it did take longer than the 30 to 35 minutes to get the onions to the "syrupy" state described. I'll have to pay more careful attention when I make it again come the cool weather.