[French] Onion Soup

This is really simple but absolutely delicious soup. It can turn out so very very nice and fruity, with full flavor for those really cold winter Sunday lunches.

It is called onion soup and yet everyone decidedly prefixes it with the word French, except that seemingly there is no other onion soup.

I had it the first time in Toronto in a steak house whose name has completely escaped me, and forgot all about it until a few years later after moving to Amsterdam while watching Alo Alo (which by the way it is really funny, especially if you have seen and older somber series called, secret army, of which Alo Alo is a parody.).

In some cold winter day in a Sunday as I was visiting Susanne in Duesseldorf, I did try to make it, but had little success.

I had a turn around after a few years later got a smashing sauce book for my birthday and began experimenting with classic meat sauces. It was only then that I finally manage to make it work.

Here I stick to a general recipe first and then add a few twists. The version in this picture has cranberry juice and unfortunately no currents.

Please also note that the cooking process in this recipe is designed to maximize extraction of favour and to create a fruity rather than meaty taste, which is something I am very fond of whenever I make stew or meat sauce. Onion soup is basically a cross-breed of meat sauce and stew for the poor who enjoy stock rather than the real thing. onionsoup-main

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized red onions (it is often made with white onion, but I like the colour that red onions contribute).
  • 50 ml red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoon of all-purpose flower
  • 250 ml beaf stock
  • 150 ml cooking white wine
  • 50 ml medium or sweet sherry
  • fresh thymes
  • two cloves of garlic, cruched
  • vegetable oil (sunflower seed oil does the job really nicely)
  • A few slices of baguette
  • brie
  • butter
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of fresh currant if you have any or it is in season

How to make it

  • Slice the onions thinly
  • heat two tablespoon of oil in a thick base pan or skillet on medium high temperature
  • add the onions and fry for about three minutes.
  • reduce the heat, add thyme leaves (remove the stalk) and continue frying the onion for another 10 minutes while regularly steering until the onions are golden-browonionsoup-boilingn.
  • add a bit of butter and dissolve the flower in the mix, just the same way is done in bechamel sauce.
  • add half othe garlic and continue browning the onion for another 2-5 minutes until the onions are brown.
  • add the sugar and let the onions caramelize and
  • reduce the heat further to low temperature.
  • add wine vinegar and dissolve the sugar.
  • add the sherry and close the lid and let the mix simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • add the cooking wine and beef stock.
  • add salt and pepper
  • close the lid and let is gently simmer for 30 minutes.

Additions to original recipe.

  • add the currant or optionally some cranberry juice at the last stage and letting the soup to simmer with the extra fruity taste.
  • add a little bit of tiny pieces of goulash meat (really no larger than .5 cm in diameter) in the last stage of browning  the onion. This will give it a bit of surprising bite.
  • it would be a sacrilege, and Italian invasion of something uncompromisingly French, like Cesar in Gaul,  but Don Pomodori is a much friendlier chap than late Gaius Julius, even though they both sport a red face at times (Ceasar painted his face red on the way back from Egypt as he thought he had become a God; poor chap had apparently gone postal). What I mean by that is that instead of currant or cranberry juice one can add 1-2 tablespoon (but absolutely no more than that) of fresh tomato juice. It gives the food a bit of reddish colour and fresh taste.
  • Changing the stock from meat to vegetables, turns the soup into a vegetarian dish and tofu instead of cheese makes it vegan for those who are stricter.

Making garlic bread

  • slice a pieces of baguette, especially if you have left over from yesterday it is good way of using it.
  • mix butter, sea salt, and the rest of the garlic together in a bowl.
  • fry the bread slices in garlic butter until crispy (this is like making crostini). Towards the end add a few leaves of thyme.
  • preheat the oven on high temperature, something like 220 degrees Celsius.
  • slice a few pieces of brie and put them on the butter
  • After your soup a reduced and is a bit more viscous to the point that you are happy with taste, texture, and viscosity, pour the soup in over soup bowls.
  • place a slice of brie on your bread and put the bread atop your soup (viscosity prevents the bread to sink)
  • put the oven grid on high in the oven and broil under the heat until the cheese is baked.
  • Enjoy your meal.
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