Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Classic French Onion Soup

I'm not sure I can get through this post. This recipe took forever, really it did. Well, about 4 hours. We didn't eat dinner until after 9 PM, may be closer to 10, I can't remember. I was so tired, I had appetite suppression. Perhaps you know this feeling. You cook and cook and cook, and at the end you just don't want to eat. It was all a blur.

Hanging out with friends I hadn't seen in almost 6 months, we decided to cook up a storm. There were two birthdays to celebrate, one a newlywed, the other a parent for almost 2 years. Friends selected the recipes and kindly purchased all the ingredients for almost 5 dishes! All I brought was a frozen tiramisu since I was the out-of-towner with no kitchen or ingredients to prepare anything more exciting.

We had the whole day to prepare this soup but misreading the recipe through us for a loop. I thought the recipe would take about 60 minutes. NO NO NO NO! It was 60 minutes for STEP 2, and there are 5 steps! You got to love Cook's Illustrated. The soup was great, and devoured by all. Would I make it again? Probably not. It's a lot of fuss for a soup, and there are other soups I would much rather eat that don't take nearly as long. Nevertheless it was a lot of fun and I couldn't imagine spending a better way with friends and family.

Serves 6

- 3 T unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
- 4 lbs onions (about 6 large), halved pole to pole and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
- 2 c water, plus extra for deglazing
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 4 c low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cup beef broth
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
- 1 bay leaf

- 1 small baguette
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

1. FOR THE SOUP: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray the inside of a large (at least 7 quart) Dutch oven with vegetable oil spray. Add the butter, onions, and 1 tsp salt to the pot. Cook, covered, for 1 hour. (The onions will be most and slightly reduced in volume). Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping the bottom and sides after 1 hour.

Note: We used a metal stock pot and it was mostly fine. However, due to uneven heating, some of the onions burned onto the pan, and it was very very hard to remove. I think the enameled Dutch oven may work better for this reason.

2. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning to quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary. (Scrape any browned bits that collect on the spoon back into the onions.) Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen the crust, and cook until the water evaporates and the pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat the process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until the onions are very dark brown. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in 2 cups water, the chicken broth, beef broth, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on the bottom and sides of the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard thyme and bay leaf, then season with the salt and pepper to taste.

4. FOR THE CROUTONS: While the soup simmers, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry, crisp and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

5. Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on the baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups of the soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap the slices) and sprinkle evenly with the Gruyere. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; serve.


Simply Life said...

it looks delicious! I've made this soup several times before and it hasn't taken that long. Here's the link as I definitely think it's worth the work!

My kitchen skills said...

Soup looks Yummy and delicious...


Clarity said...

I saw your post on Barbara's then came over as you look a lot like someone I know :)

I adore cooking and shall browse your recipes for other perhaps shorter-cooking time soups :)

Katerina said...

French onion soup si delicious. I made it once and it didn't last that long. I wonder why. Yours looks scrumptious.

Joanne said...

I generally like my soups to be less complicated but for a good french onion soup...I'd put in the time. Looks fantastic!

Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

I love the perfect cheese crust on this soup! And I totally get the eating at 9pm. Every time I try a new recipe, the hubster knows dinner will be a late one :)

Barbara said...

No matter how long it took (I had no idea French Onion Soup took that amount of time!), it sure looks fabulous! And that cheese melted on top is a perfect topping. Good work and great that you had fun while doing it. Sorry your appetite was gone at the end, though. :( Did you get to enjoy it the next day??


I've always loved French onion soup! It's such a comforting dish!

Chow and Chatter said...

oh wow thats a long time looks amazing those and you have a pic as proof he he

Stella said...

Hey Nirmala, wow! That's a long time for a bowl of soup. I bet it was stellar though (smile)! I might make this soon actually. French onion is my favorite-bookmarked. Oh, and Happy Saturday;)

maybelle's mom said...

what a lovely loaf and would work well with your carrot soup.

Rita said...

That onions oup is looking amazingly delicious; great recipe.

Hannah said...

Is there any better way to catch up with friends than by cooking and eating together? I don't think so either :) This looks so good!

Victoria K. said...

Glad you were able to finally eat your dinner! French onion soup is one of my favorites :) looks great!