Saturday, April 26, 2008

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup (revisited)(updated from archives)

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.


Ani L. Arambula said...

I love French onion soup and I have never tried making it at home before. This recipe sounds like a winner to me (and the photo is mouthwatering!). Looking forward to trying it!

Anh said...

Amy, it's good that you could make a proper onion shop for yourself. It looks very good!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

It's been such a long time since I've had a good French onion soup and you have made me crave for it - in the middle of summer. Looks lovely!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Did you make this a few days ago? B/c I swear I was craving French onion soup like crazy a few days ago. And it's hoooot! And I haven't made it in several years actually. Just wondering if we're on the same wavelength again. ;)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Ah, now I know why you made the stock! French onion soup is worth all of the time it takes to make it properly, and I'm so glad you did that!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Done right it really is all it's cracked up to be isn't it!
I know I'll be doing it again.
Soup is not always easy to capture in a photo but you've done it lushly!! Looks wonderful.

Andrea said...

How yummy! I love French Onion soup and yours looks lovely!

Deborah said...

French onion soup is my favorite soup!! Your recipe sounds perfect.

test it comm said...

Your french onion soup looks really good. It is one of my favorites though I do not make it too often as it usually takes me about 3 hours to cook the onions.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Amy, what a shame! People are crazy thinking that they can call bad food by their names and get away with it.

I'm glad you found out about it - your soup sounds delicious, I love the photo, too!

Anonymous said...

You are patient, lady :) with caramelized onions and homemade soup, I bet yours was as good as the real thing.

I seldom have French onion soup - the last good one I had was in Paris.

Anonymous said...

This is a recipe to try! I don't think I'll have the patience of Keller either to cook the onions for 4 hours. It looks so delicious specially since you used homemade beef stock.

Amy said...

Thanks! It can be a little time consuming but the end product is worth it!

Definitely, it's always nice to be able to enjoy something at home.

I had to plan making the soup on a rainy day. lol

Yup! It was a few days ago, maybe a week ago. We're definitely on the same vibe again. ;D

Me too, the time spent was so worth it!

It is! I will definitely make this again. Thanks for your kind words!

Thank you!

Thank you! It is one of my favorites now too. :)

Wow 3 hours, I'm sure the flavor of the onions are phenomenal.

Thank you! I'm a little curious as to if the restaurant still serves that soup.

I rushed the onions a little, not that patient ;P. I'd love to have authentic French onion soup in Paris. One day...

Homemade beef stock made all the difference. :) Let me know how you like it!

Peabody said...

Oh, I would have sent that back! As a french soup lover I would have been in total shock.

WokandSpoon said...

I love French onion soup! In France, it's a tradition for friends to bring french onion soup over in the middle of the night after moving houses or even after a wedding. My inlaws woke us up at 2:30am after our wedding with French onion soup!

Amy said...

Now I would totally send the soup back too.

What a great tradition! I'm sure Steven would not complain, he's already asking me to make it again next week. :)

Helene said...

You keep making all my favorites...will you marry me?!!
This looks fantastic. It is pourig rain here and I wish I had a cup of it right now!

Amy said...

Helen of course I would marry you! That would mean an endless supply of your fab desserts!

Ngoc said...

This was amazing - everything French onion soup should be. :)

Graeme said...

I keep imagining a spoon pressing on that cheese and meeting a little bit of resistance from the bread. Then breaking into those sweet onion-y bits.


Anonymous said...

the very thought of raw red onion in a bowl of "french onion soup" makes me tremble with barely-suppressed rage.

you version, on the other hand, is strongly activating my pavlovian response.

Amy said...

Thank you!

Mm I love how the bread is toasty and crunchy on top and soaked in soup on the bottom. Yum!

Oh I hear ya! That soup was just AWFUL!

Joe said...

Great recipe...I make French onion soup often and I use beef bouillon cubes from France that don't have all the nasty MSG found in their American counterparts. I will have to try making a homemade beef stock, though - sounds delicious!

Unknown said...

Ha...patience. There may be food items that can be rushed, but the onion soup is not among them. Seriously, it does take about four hours until the creamy consistency and dark brown colour start coming through. Some Chefs keep the stock in the oven for hours, ensuring even heating, but a good cast iron casserole on a stove works as well, yet requires more attention. Just add water if the stock becomes too thick, but the forming crust is good!
The stock can be saved/frozen, too.
The result if fully opaque and not soupy at all. With a stew-like texture and the caramelized sugars of the onions truly shining, this is an outstanding dish. Don't settle just for a pretty damn good soup.

Anonymous said...

It looks absolutely delicious and the photo itself is great. I'll definitely have to try your recipe out sometime!


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