Know your Onion: French Onion Soup

This afternoon my friends and I went out for a very delicious, indulgent and gut-busting brunch.  That left me little inclination to make or eat anything for the rest of the evening.  However, to keep on schedule, I kept it light with some French Onion Soup. Onion soups have been around for centuries and were typically seen as food for the poor because onions were everywhere and easy to grow. The soup we have all come to know and love originates in France in the 18th century.  No matter the version, this is super easy, cheap to make, healthy and very flavorful..  The trick is to allow the onions to caramelize, and that, my friend, makes all the difference.

Sometimes I like to spend hours in the kitchen. Sometimes I don’t, and if there is a way to shortcut the time, I will. Hey, I’m a busy gal!  The slow caramelization in my case today was 20 minutes. While some recipes I found suggested a cook time of up to 2 hours, this soup is done in little more than 30 minutes.  Therefore, there’s no excuse for you to not try it.

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French Onion Soup
Serves 4
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Total Time
35 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 TB oil
  2. 1 TB butter
  3. 3 very large yellow onions, sliced thin
  4. 3 TB flour
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. 2 tsp fresh thyme
  7. 1/2 cup Belgian beer
  8. 4 cups beef stock
  9. salt and pepper
  10. 4 large slices crusty french bread, toasted
  11. 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan. Add the onions and thyme and cook the onions slowly, stirring often for 16-18 minutes until brown and caramelized. Sprinkle the flour and cook for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the bay leaf and beer, deglazing the pan. Add the stock, cover pot to bring soup up to a quick boil.
  3. Arrange soup in bowls and place on a cookie sheet. Preheat broiler to high. Float toasted bread on soup and cover each bowl with about 1/4 cup cheese. Broil until cheese melts and bubbles.
Notes
  1. Different recipes suggest using wine, sherry, cognac or beer for the alcohol. I decided to go with beer given its close proximity to Belgium, and I really like the flavor of it. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child which, in my opinion, is sort of the French cooking Bible for Americans, suggests Swiss or Parmesan cheese for the topping. However,I went with what is typically found in the U.S. version and used Gruyere
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World http://thehungarybuddha.com/
 Yup, it’s that easy.

 

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Without the toppings- check out the golden color                                                                                                              

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All gussied up

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3 Comments

  1. I love onion soup. But I have a slight problem with it – the beef stock. Perhaps you have a suggestion for a vegetarian alternative?

    Also, Belgian beer just doesn’t narrow it down 😉 There are hundreds of beers brewed there, and they are amazingly variable. Could you be a bit more specific on that one?

    • Hi Michael,

      The only alternative to beef stock I can think of is a really good, homemade vegetable stock. Also, maybe try adding a really full bodied beer or red wine to increase the flavor.

      As for the brew I used, I went with Stella. I know, I know, not all that interesting or original, but that’s what I had in the fridge. I know there are better alternatives. Again, since you’re using a veg stock, maybe pick one that packs a punch.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

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