French Onion Soup
「Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée」
An earthy, fragrant soup with topped with a slice of bread and melted Emmental cheese. Nothing beats the cold weather like onion soup.
Onion soup is a classic and delicious dish of French cuisine. Because onions have a large amount of sugar inside, they have the potential to become really tasty when all of that sugar turns into caramel.
Onions have been a popular ingredient for meals since old ages and it is said that today’s recipe roots came from soups from Ancient Rome. There are two popular myths surrounding the creation of the first French onion soup – the first one claims that King Louis the XV of France is the original creator; another version suggests that Nicolas Appert that came up with the idea (naming it Soupe à l’Oignon à la Stanislas). Seems like it’s hard to know the exact answer but, well, at least both sounds quite interesting and fun!
The ingredient list coincidentally includes french-cut onions, making this dish French even in one extra interpretation.
One important feature of the onion soup is the fact we must use caramelized onions, and the thing is… there’s no shortcut for caramelizing them.
Forget any recipe that tells you that you can do it from scratch in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it is not possible by any chance to prepare this dish that quickly. Making caramelized onions by hand takes a lot of time but it is essential for this recipe. The good thing is that it scales quite well, so you can make large quantities in one day and use it later for other dishes.
After preparing the soup, don’t forget the setup: serve it in a pot with sliced bread and melted cheese on the top (yes, that’s an important part of the original recipe)!
The rest of the recipe is quite trivial: butter and flour mixture for thickening, beef stock, herbs (thyme and bay leaf) and, of course, a good French cheese.
- 4 large onions, cut in thin slices.
- 400g of butter
- 100g of flour
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup of sherry/white wine
- 2L of beef stock
- fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- First of all, with large frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and the onions on medium-low heat.
- Cook the onions, stirring constantly. It should take around 1-2 hours.
- Add the sherry, then cook until the alcohol evaporates. Scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Add the garlic and melt the butter.
- Put the flour and stir constantly to brown evenly.
- Add some stock to the pot and transfer everything to a deep stock pot.
- Combine with the remaining beef stock, the herbs, then cook the mix on medium heat.
- Stir the soup with a whisk, in order to to remove any clumps.
- When the soup is close to boiling point, turn off the heat.
- Assemble an oven-proof individual container with a ladle of soup, a slice of bread and grated cheese on top.
- Put on a grill oven on 220 degrees, until the cheese is fully melted.
- Serve the soup.
Keep the fire low to caramelize all the sugar inside the onions. If you set the heat too high you’ll get only a browned surface with a white center.
Likewise, overcooked caramelized onions are not tasty. The onions should be golden light brown. So remember to taste them after cooking for an hour and a half; they should feel sweet without any strong raw or burnt flavor. Don’t worry, you will probably notice without much trouble when they are good to go.
The leftover soup makes a good stock base for other recipes. You can use it in a stew or a pie!