The last two posts, Hearty Beef Stock and Rich Chicken Stock, were a prelude to this post. You see, without those two posts you simply cannot make this recipe. The backbone and base of this soup is the stock. Canned or box stocks or broths will give you a soup but not one you want to serve your guests. This recipe is the real deal.
I love onions. I love stock and consommés. One day a very thoughtful Frenchman decided to mix the two together and viola French Onion Soup. You get the winey flavor mellowed by the rich full flavor of the stock, coupled with the sweetness from the onions served with a beautiful crouton topped with gruyere cheese. How can you possibly go wrong with this dish. This rich, hearty soup is a spectacular appetizer for dinner parties with its breath taking beauty and ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness. It is also perfect for those cold, blustery nights when nothing warms you like a good hearty soup. But don’t wait for cold weather or a dinner party to enjoy this soup. It was in the 80s yesterday when we had it for the family dinner and everyone enjoyed it.
- 2 large white onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 bunch spring onions, whites only, sliced
- 6 – 8 cups GOOD quality beef stock
- 6 – 8 cups GOOD quality chicken stock
- 1 cup dry red wine (I prefer a Cabernet but your preference may be different)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup Port, Sherry, or Madera Wine (optional)
- Good quality sourdough bread, toasted and cut into 3 inch rings
- 1/2 lb gruyere cheese, sliced
- Spring onions greens, sliced for garnish
Add oil to a large dutch oven and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot and stir to coat with the oil and butter. It will look like a whole lot of onions (it is) but the onions will cook down.
Cook very slowly over medium-low heat stirring occasionally allowing the onions to break down the starches and caramelize bringing out the natural, beautiful sweetness of the onion.
Some cooks take the onions to a deep, rich, brown color which makes the onions even sweeter; however, you must be careful when cooking the onions to a deep brown color lest you burn the sugars in the onions in the process. This will result in a bitterness to your soup.
When you get the onions to a nice brown color, add the red wine.
Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated by half.
Now add the beef stock
and the chicken stock.
Now add the minced garlic.
Bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 40 minutes to let the flavors develop and meld. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remember i do not salt my stock so you will definitely need to salt the soup. For my tastes, I use 1/2 Tablespoon of salt.
Now, this is one of those dishes that is better the next day to allow the flavors to fully meld. I started this soup in the morning and was done by noon. We turned off the soup and allowed it to cool. When we ate dinner at 6:30 p.m. I turned the soup back on and let it slowly come to a simmer. If you are going to use the optional sherry, port or madera wine, add it at this time.
When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Toast the bread and cut out the rounds. Ladle the soup into bowls (or mugs)
Float a toasted round on top of the soup.
Add sliced gruyere cheese on top of rounds and place under a broiler to melt the cheese. When the cheese is melted remove from the broiler, top with sliced spring onion greens and serve.