Finishing Onion Soup
I've been following what I could glean from the internet concerning Thomas Keller's onion soup recipe. But the internet doesn't abound with convinclngly accurate descriptions of the recipe. Can anyone clarify what the proportion of broth/stock to onions is supposed to be? (I've put his books on hold at the library but they're not in yet.)
I started with about 4 lbs of onions. I have considerably more stock/broth than I will need, I imagine (probably 3 quarts, at least).
Also, I don't have those little crock bowls that restaurants use. I'll have to work to find a broiler-friendly substitute....
if you're looking for inexpensive and oven safe correlle makes some with a good-sized bowl and a handle on the side. walmart carries them or you might find on ebay.
too much stock is a good way to start. then you can simmer and reduce until you're happy with the consistency. i've been finishing with an ounce of pernod for the last few minutes and as with mussels it adds a nice but hard to identify aromatic note.
You definitely do not need the bowls...just a nice touch if you see a good deal on them.
Berkleybabe, I agree, I don't like a soggy crouton, but when I add if just before putting under the broiler with the cheese, I find it floats and comes out with some soup absorbed in, but a nice crunchy top.
I really love french onion soup and today in NYC makes it feel like the weather is starting to change to fall :)
I always add an almost equal amount of chicken and beef broth --- I think you get a bit lighter and more complex flavor and about a 1/2 to 1 cup dry white wine --- acid will brighten the flavor. I'm in favor of making a crouton with cheese broiled on top and adding to soup last minute, that way you don't get a big old soggy chunk of bread with the cheese floating on top. Hope you enjoy yours.
I have no familiarity with Keller's recipe, but I make both caramelized onions and French onion soup fairly regularly. As a rule, a pound of onion yields about a cup of well-caramelized onions. So I would think that you won't need more than 2 qts stock, if that.
You can get away with baking (or even microwaving) rather than broiling the bowls of cheese-covered soup. They taste and look their best if the cheese is nice and brown, but it's not hugely important. If you have ordinary, heavy bowls, put them on a sheet pan and bake at 375-400. Keep an eye on them and remove from the oven as soon as the cheese is bubbly.
For me the browned cheese is the most important part! It adds a whole other demension to the flavor. Very few restaurants around here go to that trouble. I have seen a piece of toast/bread covered with Gruyère and broiled and then put on the soup. You could do that if your bowls are not oven proof.
That's a pretty smart idea by wekick...
As for the ratio of stock to onions you asked about, The Bouchon Cookbook calls for and original amount of 3.5 quarts of beef stock and 1.5 quarts of the already caramelized onions (start with 8 large spanish/yellow onions - that should get you close - and any extra will freeze well, but I always just put the yield from 8 large in in the soup.) Then add the onions to the 3.5Q stock and reduce that via simmer to 2.5q, and you have it. Hopefully you can let that mix sit in the fridge (cool first in an ice bath or similar technique first as to not raise your fridge temp) for a day or so, then reheat, and top with crouton and cheese with whatever method you choose...I like wekick's idea.
Also, I bought onion soup crocks from Sur La Table for around $8/crock, and a few days later saw virtually the same crock in Crate and Barrel for around $4 I think - and I'm sure you can find better deals. You certainly do not need a crock, but they can be picked up pretty cheap and do help get the crouton/cheese:stock/onion ratio right by its shape...wider in the belly, narrower up top.
I love keller's/the slow method of making onion soup...enjoy!
Thanks everyone. I got hold of Bouchon and noticed that he doesn't specify quantity of stock in the recipe. but it appears from dcole's description that what's called for is one unit of the Bouchon book's own stock recipe elsewhere in the book.
For crocks, I stopped by Good Will and found two Corning bowls with saucepan-like handles, respectively 1 and 1.5 pints. They might do, and for 50 cents each, it's hard to pass. But they flare at the top and they would indeed create a higher proportion of cheese and crouton. But can that really be so bad?
That said, I note that Keller insists in no uncertain terms that proportion is hugely important. Maybe I'll hunt up a proper crock and try both at once! So far, the onions and broth mixture tastes awesome. And it better! There's at least 20 hours of relatively inactive cooking time into this dish already!
with my french onion soup, I finish it with lots of cheese, I love a mix of mozzerella and fontina. I just love the mix of these two more than the tradtional. I sink a crouton the size of the bowl, add the soup cover with cheese and bake. Then when the cheese is just melted, I stick a broken crouton like a shard through the cheese and put the broiler on low. There's where I get my browned edges, and the crouton quite crunchy.
Do get your self a couple of the bowls,
Target has them 4 for 27.99 & William Sonomm has them for a bit more. I have theirs and have never regretted buying them. I use them for many different soups, and they really hold the heat well - so important to me.
Everytime I see a post of French Onion soup, I just know I'm going to make it!