I know what you’re thinking: “girl, you are so crazy to stand by a stove making French Onion Soup in April!”. Yes, I will tell you, but yesterday was 74 degrees, whereas today has a winter storm warning attached to it. I cook what I want, when I want it. Plus i have air conditioning. Might be a different case if it were midsummer and 120 degrees!
French Onion soup is at once luscious, bold, silky, velvety, rich, unctuous, deep, sweet, and gooey. This is why you need to forget everything you know about onions, and make it now while the season is still temperamental enough. Also, make sure you leave this for when you have a lot of time to make dinner, since caramelizing the onions takes several hours.
No stories for me on this one… It’s just something I felt like making. I never had it growing up, but I have eaten countless portions of French onion soup DIP in my life. Y’know… Lipton’s onion soup mix, with a container of sour cream, all mixed together? YUM.
You will need:
3 lbs of yellow onions, thinly sliced (now is the time to use a mandoline if you have one)
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 quarts of hot liquid – you can use all water, all beef or chicken stock, or a combination… I used half a quart of chicken stock, half a quart of beef stock, and 1 quart water)
1/2 cup of dry white wine
3 tbs cognac
A large hunk of Gruyere cheese, grated
Thinly slice you onions into half moons. If you have a mandoline, use it to make quick work of those onions, especially if you have not ever/recently sharpened your knives.
Set a large pot – preferably an enameled pot, like Le Creuset, on to a medium flame/burner, and add the butter to the pot, melting completely.
Add all onions to the pot, and sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt over the massive heap of onions, tossing to coat. Cover with your pot lid, and reduce the heat to low until the onions start to sweat (you will see condensation on the lid, and the onions will literally look like they are perspiring (elegantly, of course). Once the onions start to sweat, remove the lid and give it a other stir. You’ll want to watch the onions carefully right now as the onions exude most of their liquid at this point, but once this happens you can go back to check and give a stories about once an hour (leave the lid off at this point). Or if you are like me, every 15 minutes (which is really unnecessary… I’m just paranoid). You will want the onions to reach a uniform amber color before you finish the soup. At the end of their cook time there should be a significantly smaller heap of onions than before!
Once your onions have reached the stage of uniform amber-ness, you will want to add all of your hot liquid to the onions, as well as the white wine, and gently stir. Bring your soup up to a simmer at this point, for a half an hour. You can use this time to correct your seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
You can also use this time to toast two slices of baguette per bowl at 325, until done. Brush the toasted side up with a little olive oil if you want to, flip once the top side is done to your liking, and then brush the other cut side after the flip. Rub each side with the cut side of a raw piece of garlic for extra flavor! I would say that the toasting process should take about 20-30 minutes, and could easily be moved into the earlier cook time if you prefer.
Right before serving the soup, stir three tbs of cognac into the soup. Place your soup bowls on a half sheet pan for ease of transport and broiling. Mete out the individual portions of soup (and as you are doing so, pre-heat your broiler to high), enough so that the top of the bread is flush with the top of the bowl – if not, no biggie – the food police are not going to come and arrest you! Pile on Gruyere cheese to your liking… But enough to completely cover the top of the soup and bread. Broil u til the cheese is golden, remove from the oven and carefully serve.