The Ram is a restaurant and brewery better known for brewing their own beer and the ginormous 1 pound burgers but I will always remember their absolutely atrocious French onion soup. The last time I went was a few years ago, back when Steven and I were still college kids with gastronomic knowledge limited to fast, cheap, and/or microwaveable consumables. When our soup arrived we were faced with a whole, uncut, and still somewhat crunchy red onion (at least they took the peel and root off) covered in a meager bit of cheese sitting in pool of insipid brown liquid. At this point, Steven and I stared at this "interpretation" of French onion soup and we both whispered to each other, "Is it supposed to be like this?" We were confused as to what we should do with the thing. Was the onion some new and innovative centerpiece that we missed the memo on? Do we eat around the onion or do we eat the onion too?
We didn't know any better so in the end we didn't complain and finished the broth, ate the cheese, and ate about half the onion. We don't like to waste food but at the same time, we had reached our onion limit. Now I know better. How dare they call that lousy excuse of a soup "French onion soup"?! Where were the caramelized onions and cheese-topped toasted baguette slices? That soup was definitely not French onion soup. Anyway, the other day I made my own French onion soup with homemade beef stock and properly caramelized onions. As for The Ram? I'm tempted to go back, order that soup, and if served the same thing, I will give them a piece of my mind!
French Onion Soup
2 Tbsp butter
2 lbs of yellow onions
6 C homemade beef stock (I like the take the meat of the ribs and shred that into the soup)
1/4 C dry red wine
1 bouquet garni: 2 sprigs of parsley, 1 sprig of thyme, and 1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper
Baguette or French bread cut into 1/2 in to 3/4 in slices
3 oz. Gruyere or Comte, sliced coarsely grated
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp of salt. Once the onions are starting to turn translucent, lower the heat to medium or medium low depending on your stove. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until they are syrupy and an even brown. This should take about an hour depending on the heat you use. Thomas Keller likes to do this for 4 hours but I'm not known for my patience.
Stir in the beef stock, dry red wine, bouquet and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes. At the end, stir in the balsamic vinegar and ladle the soup into oven proof bowls.
Top each bowl with a slice of bread, either 2 baguette slices or 1 slice of french onion. Cover the bread with a layer of shredded cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
If you do not have an oven proof bowl:
1. Place the bread slices on a baking tray then cover with the cheese and bake/toast this in an oven or toaster oven until the cheese is melted and spotty brown. Then remove the slices of bread and float these in your bowls.