First, Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with lots of fun and family and great food. And speaking of food :) When was the last time you enjoyed a bowl of French Onion Soup? If you’re like me … it’s been a while!
I’m old enough to remember when French Onion Soup was considered “gourmet food” and was a required item on the menu of every fine restaurant. But then it fell out of favour. Became dated and old-school. But I’m starting to see it pop up here and there again so perhaps, like many things, it’s come back in style. (I’m old enough to remember hot pants too, but let’s hope they never come back!)
It wasn’t until my daughter tried it at a restaurant recently that I had given French Onion Soup much of a thought. She was smitten and has been
begging every night of the week encouraging me to make it for her ever since.
In search of a recipe, I found there are endless variations. Some contain beef broth, some chicken and some more with a combination of both. Some contain add-ins like garlic, brandy, sherry, red or white wine, herbs and more. Some use Swiss cheese or emmenthal, others Gruyere. I settled on a simple, classic recipe from Fine Cooking.
Of course, the first challenge was figuring out how I was going to survive cutting 4 cups of onions (goggles?!). In truth, it wasn’t that bad and the soup actually came together very quickly once the passive cooking time of sweating the onions was done. I think that qualifies it as a reasonably quick weeknight dinner option and I’ll certainly be putting it into the dinner rotation.
Here is my adaptation of the original recipe. It was fabulous!! Just simply wonderful and everything a French Onion Soup should be – comforting, hearty and cheesy. I made a small-ish batch. It was just enough for 4 bowls. If you’re feeding more, just double the recipe (and my thoughts are with you having to cut 8 cups of onions :)
Classic French Onion Soup
Summary: This recipe will make 4 bowls of soup. To serve more, simply double the recipe. I love the mixture of half yellow and half sweet onions but you can easily use all sweet or all yellow, if you prefer.
- 1/8 cup (1 oz.) unsalted butter
- 1/2 lb. yellow onions, thinly slice (2 cups)
- 1/2 lb. sweet onions, thinly sliced (2 cups)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp. white sugar
- 1 quart (4 cups) good quality beef broth (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 baguette, cut into at least sixteen 3/4-inch slices
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated (you could also use Swiss or Emmanthal, but Gruyere is my favourite)
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Season with about 1 tsp. of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Stir to coat onions in butter. Reduce the heat to low and place a piece of foil wrap right over the onions. Then place the lid on the pot. Allow to cook, over low heat, stirring every 10 minutes, for 40 minutes or until the onions are soft. Remove foil and lid. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 tsp. sugar and cook, stirring, until the onions are golden. Be patient. It will take 10 minutes or so. You definitely want to cook off all the liquid and then the onions should develop colour. Don’t wander far during this stage, especially once the liquid has cooked off as the onions can burn quickly if you’re not watching and stirring regularly.
- Once the onions are done, add the beef stock and stir, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. (*This is a good time to taste the soup and add additional salt and pepper, as needed)
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Slice the baguette into 3/4-inch slices and place onto a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and lightly browned, about 15 minutes (turn pieces of bread once during that cooking time.) When baguettes are done and removed from the oven, change your oven setting to “Broil” to pre-heat.
- Prepare your soup bowls by placing onto a baking sheet. Place 3 toasted baguette slices into the bottom of the bowls. Spoon soup over baguettes and top with grated Gruyere. Place baking sheet under the broiler and heat until cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve with any extra baguette toasts on the side. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 50 min | Total time: 1 hour
Number of servings (yield): 4
Adapted from a Fine Cooking recipe | Photo