Onion Soup… the French Influence
The weather has turned quite chilly, all of a sudden. The mind seeks interesting books to read and warm sofas to curl up on; the tummy seeks comfort foods. I might be – no, I am – wrong in going for the ultimate in winter comfort foods, so early in the season… but I wanted onion soup! Bubbling over with cheesy goodness, the thick brown gravy smelling heavenly, the French concoction was calling my name!
French cuisine is well known for its long and rich history and high level of sophistication. And many dishes of ancient origin have been adapted and modified to fit the French tradition. Onion soup is one such dish.
Though the best onion soup I have ever tasted had chunks of beef in it, cooked to a melt-in-the-mouth perfection. This was at a historic tavern in the Gettysburg area, reputed to be in existence since 1776. It was one heck of a soup indeed!
How many onions to a cup of broth? The opinions and recipes vary to a great extent on that. As far as Americans are considered, there is no one above Julia Child as an authority on French cuisine. And it is her recipe that I have taken and followed. Of course, with some minor changes.
So… enjoy the cool weather with a piping hot bowl of cheery onion soup!
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 onions, yellow or white
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 6-8 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 2 cups gruyere or emmentaler cheese
- 1 French baguette
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Slice the onions thinly, lengthwise.
- Grate the cheese using a medium grater.
- Slice the baguette into thick slices and toast them in a slow oven.
- In a large pan, heat the butter.
- Add the sliced onions and thyme.
- Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally. If the heat is high, the onions will get burned and will not caramelize well.
- When the onions are caramelized into a darkish brown, add the wine or vermouth.
- Stir for two minutes to evaporate the alcohol in the wine.
- Add the stock along with enough sale and black pepper.
- Bring to a boil and continue cooking on low heat, for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 400 degree farenheit.
- To assemble the dish, you can either use a set of ramekins or an oven-proof gratin pan.
- Fill the ramekins three quarters full with the soup.
- Float a slice of toasted baguette on each ramekin.
- Sprinkle the top liberally with grated cheese.
- Place in the pre-heated oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly and browned (about 10-15 minutes).
- Serve hot as a starter or light meal. Yummy!