Monday, September 19, 2011

French Onion Soup! And you thought I hated onions!

I do hate onions.  I hate raw onions, and only like them grated or chopped SO fine its unrecognizable in other dishes.  Even though I am not sure where my dislike came from.... oh wait, YES, I DO!  One time, (you thought I was going to say, "at band camp" didn't you?) my sister Anne, made homemade Salisbury steak.  She had SO many onions in it!  It happened that I got a stomach bug and I need to go on?  I swore off onions for the rest of my life and that was that.  Remember, my cooking knowledge and skill was virtually nonexistent beyond warming up a can of Beefaroni.  

Fast forward to New Jersey, one of my best friends, Mel and I in Applebee's, where she was slurping up some soup that smelled and looked SO good.  I was at war in my mind, how could this soup taste good, if it was ONION soup?!?!   I decided the cheese melted on the top, that had formed a nice crusty ring around the bowl needed my lips on it immediately.  I fell in LOVE.  This was probably, well over 10 years ago, and like I said, before my cooking knowledge and skill had really even been born.  

So now, even though I don't like raw onion, and I don't like big hunks of onion in anything, I love French Onion Soup.  Do you think you don't like onions?  Try caramelizing them!  The world is a beautiful place when caramelized onions are a part of it!  They become so sweet, so mild.  It's just so delicious, I can't believe what I had been missing.  Although, let's be honest, I am not sure anyone in Ord, Nebraska was serving French Onion Soup in the 80's or 90's.  Sadly, our local French bistro was.... oh wait, we never had one!  

This soup screams fall and winter to me, and I think with the fall weather already almost here, it's a great soup to make and have alone as a light meal or as a starter for a larger meal.  Here is my recipe.  I omit some things you might think are a must in French onion soup and I add a few things you might think are odd.  It took me a few tries in past years to perfect the recipe I think is better than any French onion soup I have ever eaten.

French Onion Soup
 (will serve 4 generously)

4 med to large onions. Sliced
1 clove of garlic
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning or thyme
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp flour
4 cups beef stock
Melt 2 tbsp of butter in large deep skillet.  Add all of the sliced onions and 1 popped and peeled clove of garlic.  Cook on med-high heat stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.  Reduce to medium and let onions become brown and caramelized, this could take up to 45 minutes.  Keep them covered!  I like to let them get there slowly!  After onions are caramelized and sweet, add flour and let cook for 1 min stirring constantly. Add beef stock and let simmer for 15-30 minutes.  You can serve when it's at the consistency you like.  Simmer longer for thicker soup and let simmer only 10-15 for thinner soup.  If it gets too thick for you, just add a little water or more stock. Add last tbsp of butter to "gloss" the soup and make it nice and rich and shiny. Turn to low and prepare topping.
4 thick slices of baguette
8 slices of provolone or 2 cups Gruyere cheese

To serve using oven safe crocks:  Fill crocks with soup, float sliced baguette on top and top with cheese, 2 pieces of provolone or 1/2 cup Gruyere.  Broil in oven until cheese is bubbly and brown on top.  Keep your oven door opened slightly, the second you leave it, it will burn!!!
To serve in regular "NON oven safe bowl"  Fill bowls with soup.  Put bread on a baking sheet and top with cheese, slide under broiler for a couple of minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly, remove and float on to of soup.  OR toast bread in oven or on a grill pan.  Float on top of soup when toasted.  Put cheese on top and use a creme brulee torch to melt the cheese and make it brown and bubbly on top.  *I did this method tonight*

You will LOVE this recipe.  Make sure to use LOW or NO sodium stock!!  Otherwise omit salt and just salt to taste, if needed.  
Enjoy your soup....while you watch a great French film!

Your, "onions are my new favorite food" chefwannabe

If you like this recipe, you might love these too!

Rustic Baguettes
French Onion Panino

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