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Classic French onion soup is not difficult to make at all. It just takes time but it’s worth it.
Classic French Onion Soup
The first thing that comes to mind when anyone thinks of French cuisine almost always is classic French onion soup.
Sure, it comes frozen and in cans–it always did–but there’s something so special when you make your own. Since making your own, including the stock, gives the soup your own special “flair.”
I readily admit to not using my own homemade stock in this since there’s so many good ones on the market–often for less cost than making your own.
There is another shortcut you can use which will make this soup set up in a jiffy so read on.
If you make this soup from scratch, this is the most involved part of the entire process. It’s not hard; actually, it’s quite easy. However, it is a tedious process where you have to stir and watch closely.
There’s a way to eliminate that process. You let your slow cooker do all the work! Since I started making slow cooker caramelized onions, I always have them on hand for other things. They freeze very well.
One caveat about the slow cooker method is that your entire house will smell like onions. So what I do is put the slow cooker out on my screen porch to do it’s magic. A garage works equally as well.
Bread And Cheese
A baguette is the best bread to use for this soup. It’s relatively narrow and had a good texture that won’t become soggy easily. that’s provided the soup is served almost immediately. Regular French bread can be used in a pinch if you can’t get a baguette. Of course your own homemade bread is best if you have it. The bread must also be lightly toasted and dried out making it somewhat like melba toast.
As for the cheese, Swiss is most often used, but it’s not imperative. In fact, I prefer this with a nice aged and piquant provolone cheese. It makes the taste a lot more interesting because of the bolder flavor. But any melting cheese will do so use one you love.
Classic Onion Soup
- 4 cups sliced onions
- 2 tbs butter
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbs flour
- 2 quarts beef stock
- 1/2 cup brandy or white wine/vermouth
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme optional
- 1 baguette or small French bread cut in 1/2-inch/1.25-cm slices
- 6 slices Swiss cheese or provolone
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Toast the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a 300F/150C oven until the edges just begin to get golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside
- To caramelize the onions--melt butter over medium heat in a dutch oven. Add the oil. Add the sliced onions and stir to coat with the butter/oil. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then stir in the sugar, cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes (this is to cook the onions), stir occasionally. Remove the cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are a nice deep brown. This will take about 30 minutes. Alternately, you may prepare the onions ahead by following this recipe beginning at the step 3 below where the flour is added--do not use additional butter/oil.
- Stir the flour into the onions and cook for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Add the brandy or vermouth, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, and thyme if using, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Place soup in 6 individual soup crocks (mine are 18 oz each). Set your broiler too high. Top each soup crock with 1 or 2 slices of baguette, place Swiss cheese over the bread and divide the Parmesan cheese evenly over each crock.
- Place under the broiler and remove when cheese is melted, about 1 minute.