Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée
I’ve always kind of had an obsession with onion soup, an almost love-hate relationship even. Ever since I had my first taste (I believe it was at Tribeca Grill years ago) I was hooked, so badly that whenever it appeared on a menu I had to create my meal order around onion soup as my starter. This is a hard task, as it tends to be a meal in and of itself! I’ve been dying to try making it at home but always feared it was going to be a huge undertaking. So, when I came across Julia Child’s onion soup recipe last week on Smitten Kitchen, I was excited to find that it’s actually a very easy process (aside from the tearful act of slicing all those onions), and requires very few ingredients! I immediately bookmarked it for the next rainy, dreary day…which happened to fall as soon as this past Saturday. So then, dinner was decided! My only complaint (as Scott noticed), would be that this could probably use more onions, so next time I make it I’ll probably go up another cup-full or so. Other than that, this was so delicious- and we even healthified it a bit by using the fat-free beef broth and whole grain bread!
Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
- 3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour
- 2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) beef or other brown stock*
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)
To finish [Gratinée]
- 1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Gruyere
- Sliced rounds of French bread, toasted until hard (enough just to cover the tops of each bowl)
Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Be patient, this step is crucial to adding the rich depth of flavor!
After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness. Stir in the cognac, if using. We, unfortunately, didn’t have any on hand.
Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. Top each bowl with the toasted bread and a mound of grated cheese.
Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab with pot holders, and serve immediately.