French Onion Soup (Cook's Illustrated)
Because I'm me, I have another recipe for French Onion Soup. This one is my all-time favorite. Yes, this soup takes time and a bit of attention, but the result is so worth it! Plan for a cozy afternoon at home with a good book and the lovely smell wafting through the house.
From Cook's Illustrated:
From Cook's Illustrated:
Be patient while caramelizing the onions; the process is slow (it takes about 2 hours) but the resulting soup, which comes together quickly after caramelization, is well worth the effort. You can substitute Swiss for Emmentaler or Gruyere cheese. Use broiler-safe bowls and make sure the rim of the bowls is 4 to 5 inches from the heating element in order to obtain good browning. If your bowls are not broiler-safe (or you are not sure), set the oven temperature to 500 degrees and bake the soup (rather than broil) until the cheese is melted.
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 medium yellow onions (about 3 pounds), halved and sliced thin (see Notes)
4 3/4 cups water
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry sherry
Ground black pepper
1 baguette, sliced on the bias into 3/4" thick slices
8 ounces Gruyere or Emmentaler cheese, shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the onions and 1 teaspoon salt, cover, and let cook until the onions are wet and slightly wilted, about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid cooks off and the onions are translucent, about 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook the onions, frequently scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, until deep brown and very soft, 40 to 60 minutes.
Continue to cook the onions, stirring every 5 minutes, until a dark crust covers the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scrape up the crust, and continue to cook until another dark crust forms, about 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat 2 more times.
Stir in the chicken broth, remaining 4 cups water, thyme and bay leaf, scarping up any final bits of the browned rust. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf. Off heat, stir in the sherry and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325°F. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the bread is dry, crisp and very lightly colored at the edges, about 10 minutes.
Adjust oven rack to 6 inches from the broiler and heat the element. Set individual broiler-safe bowls or crocks on a baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cup soup. Top each bowl with 2 baguette slices and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil until well browned and bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
from Cook's Illustrated's Best International Recipes
- I don't remember where I read this (probably one of the various Cook's Illustrated sources I normally peruse), but the onions should be cut in a specific way in order to help the half moons maintain their integrity during the long slow cooking required for this soup.
- Remove the two pole ends of the onion, and the papery skin layers. Next, halve the onion from pole to pole, *not* around the equator. Lay each half flat side down and slice into thin (~1/4") half rounds.
- I don't keep chicken stock on hand - it's so bulky and I rarely need all 4 cups. Instead, I use Better than Bouillon concentrated chicken stock. While the manufacturer instructs you to use 1 teaspoon per cup of water to make broth, I've found that can be a bit salty, so I recommend using 3/4 teaspoon per cup (or 1 tablespoon per 4 cups). Above, that translates into 8 3/4 ups water and 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon chicken stock.
- As with most things in life this is better with MOAR CHEESE!! I always get more than they call for.
- On my power burner's lowest setting it took about 40 minutes to get to the deep brown stage. Also, stir frequently so the yummy brown bits don't burn! Every 5 to 10 minutes seems about right; use your judgement based on how your onions are doing.
- This soup freezes incredibly well, so make a batch over the weekend and just thaw and run under the broiler for an easy weeknight meal.