Wednesday, February 3, 2010

French Onion Soup

One of the many skills I am expected to master at culinary school is knife work. Starting in the first quarter all the way to the last, we are tested on how accurately we can small dice a carrot, allumette a potato (another word for julienne aka matchstick), and segment an orange, just to name a few. In line with my usual need to succeed, I have been practicing my knife skills out of class to ensure that I do well. I recently bought a large bag of onions and proceeded to small dice (1/4 inch cubes) the entire bag. I was then left with a giant mound of chopped onions and incredibly teary eyes.

Stinging eyes aside, I decided to put my onions to good use and make French onion soup. We had just made it in class so I knew what it should look and taste like. I used a slightly different recipe than we had, primarily because I didn't have any sherry on hand. The onions take a long time to cook down to the desired colored (note: very dark) but only need an occasional stir so make this sometime when you are working on something else or on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Also, this soup is traditionally made with thin slices of onions so no need to take the time to small dice them like I did.

The results are definitely worth it: a rich, sweet soup that gets even better when topped with toasted bread and melted cheese. Actually, I think most things are better with toast and melted cheese but that's another story altogether.

French Onion Soup
  • 3 lb onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 3-4 c chicken or beef stock
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • Bread or baguette, sliced to 1/2 inch, toasted.
  • Gruyere, provolone, or any firm, strong cheese, grated
Melt the butter in a large pot.
Saute the onions until fully caramelized and dark brown, stirring occasionally so they don't burn. (Allow them to sit for awhile after each stir in order to get color; this can take up to 45 min).
Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping to get all the bits off the bottom.
Add the stock, enough to cover the onions by about an inch.
Stir and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add the thyme and salt to taste.
Top each bowl with toasted bread and grated cheese.
Place each bowl under the broiler for a few minutes, until cheese is bubbly and slightly brown.

For a printable recipe click here

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