French Onion Soup

IMG_0113 Last week, the kitchn kept posting about french onion soup, which is really all kinds of cruel. I mean… it’s not a quick, easy dish, it’s delicious beyond belief, and it’s pretty much the epitome of a perfect winter soup. Rich, savory soup topped by a salty, crunchy piece of bread, with browned and bubbly gruyere cheese on top? Uh, sign me up. They used the Julia Child version, and it really doesn’t get any more classic than Julia, right (she’s my hero)? You can go here and get the full directions with step by step photos, including a good visual of just how dark the caramelized onions will need to be. I did make a few modifications (DUH) and have listed them below:

  • When a recipe is this simple, each ingredient really matters, so I made a batch of beef broth. Our Whole Foods has packs of marrow bones, and I grabbed a 1.5 lb pack, browned the bones at 450 for about an hour, flipping once, and then put them in a crock pot with a skin on quartered onion, 2 carrots broken in thirds, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, a good splash of apple cider vinegar, and a sprig of thyme. I filled the crockpot with filtered water and let it cook on low for about 24+ hours. I got roughly 12 cups of delicious broth from this, more than enough to make this recipe and save some for later. This wound up saving me money in the end, and the broth is delicious and flavored exactly the way I want it to be. DO IT.
  • Thyme was my herb of choice, because I just think it pairs so beautifully with the flavors of the soup. I put some in the broth while making it, and put couple of stems in the soup when simmering.
  • The onions took a full hour of babysitting to get to the right color. It will seem at times that the color hasn’t changed for far too long, but resist the urge to turn up the heat. Low and slow.
  • Instead of white wine or brandy, we chose to use a delicious local beer. Rhinegeist has quickly become our favorite Cincinnati brewery, and we went with 1/2 c. of their Cougar beer. It’s a blonde ale, and light enough to enhance the soup without overwhelming it. Plus, then we had another 5.5 cans to drink. Yay!
  • We don’t have any special bowls for a soup like this. Our normal bowls are technically oven safe, but I always get nervous when it comes to putting them close to the broiler, so we just skipped that step. Instead, I pan fried stale slices of baguette in olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, and place them on the soup. Then I topped the bowls/mugs with shredded aged gruyere cheese, let them sit for a few moments to soften, and then… pulled out our brûlée torch and went to town. It’s always more fun with an open flame. Fact: when Josh and I got together, we each brought a brûlée torch into the relationship. We were meant to be.

My only regret is that it’s taken me so long to make this soup the right way.


2 thoughts on “French Onion Soup

  1. Looks great! Wouldn’t have thought to use beer.

    On bowls in the oven, I’ve started warming plates before dinner (the “hot food, hot plates” thing). One night I’d set the oven to 500 to really brown something and I forgot about the plates in there. They didn’t break! And our everyday plates are pretty cheap.

    That said, a bunch are chipped from several years of use and I’m about ready to move on from them. To your fears, and I’d long shared them, I do wish I’d started putting them in the oven earlier. Feels like I’m getting more value.


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