French Onion Soup

Pop quiz!  You know what’s wack?

Right now, it’s 37 degrees in Juneau.  Here? 19.  I don’t know what is going on, but my guess is that Alaska is some kind of witch.  I’m onto you, Alaska.  If I weren’t so busy staying very still under this pile of blankets, I’d getcha good.

Yeah…  It’s cold.  Really cold.

In other news, I am such a big baby.  What’s wack in YOUR world?  I want to know, because complaining about the weather is majorly boring and I’m being majorly boring.  So, tell me.  We can all be in this together…  And then we should eat soup.

This soup, in particular, is a classic of classics, and I left well enough alone for once.  It’s rich, savory, and full of sweet, caramelized onions.  Like all food that is worth its salt, French onion soup originated as peasant food–onions were, and still are, widely available and cheap.  The magic is in the method used to bring out the very best, most flavorful outcome possible from a very humble ingredient.  Heat and patience draws out moisture and caramelizes sugars, leaving you with a giant pot of mellow, soothing comfort food.

Furthermore: bread and cheese.  If you’ve ever felt that making a grilled cheese sandwich to go with your soup is just a wee bit time-consuming…   Have you thought about just plopping that stuff right atop your bowl?  It’s a stroke of genius.  So, if you, like me, are shivering all the livelong day, I would highly suggest this for dinner.  Just make sure Alaska doesn’t steal it… just like it stole my temperate winters.  HIDE YO SOUP.

I destroyed this delicious bowlful, in addition to the crouton-and-cheese topping of the second one I prepared for photo purposes.  That’s what’s up!

French Onion Soup
(adapted from Emeril) 

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
8 medium onions, sliced thinly
Leaves from 4 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Croutons or French bread crostini
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

In a large soup pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onions.  Lower heat to medium-low, add the thyme leaves and cook, stirring occasionally to keep the onions from burning, until they’re golden brown, about 30 minutes or so.  Pour in the sherry and cook until onions are brown and the liquid is almost completely evaporated, 20-25 minutes.  Then, add both broths and bring to boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or so, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and ladle soup into 8 oven-proof bowls (please don’t get mad at me if you burn down your house, but most ceramic ones would PROBABLY be fine–just don’t get them too close to the broiler or the bottom burners).  Top each bowl with croutons and 1/4 cup of cheese, and bake until cheese is bubbly and croutons are golden brown, 10 minutes or so.  Serves 8.

7 Responses to French Onion Soup

  1. Serves 8? I think not. Serves enough for me, and maybe some for you! It’s cold and Mama needs something warm!

  2. Ha! As I’m reading this I have a half-composed blog entry on how cold it’s been in LA lately. Like, highs in the 50′s cold. Brrrr!

    This tells us two things: 1) I should probably be punched in the face by your triple-mittened hands and 2) we are both apparently boring people who love to talk about the weather. Let’s bond over our boringness and (relatively) cold weather over soup!

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  4. Stop waving those delicious, perfectly carmelized onions in my face! I swear I thought I waiting very patiently for mine, but they pale in comparison to yours.

    • Next time you’re up at the lake, we can make it happen right. I even oven-tested my bowls for you!