I like French onion soup, but I’ve never made it before and thought I’d read up a little. I figured such a stately and distinguished soup must have a fascinating history. Turns out you can take your pick of histories. Base origins back to ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Egypt, England, Colonial America, and so forth. The story I saw the most was of King Louis XV of France, who upon returning from an unsuccessful hunting trip, whipped up the famous dish from what was in the kitchen that evening. We know how 17th century royalty liked to chef about in their free time. There does seem to be some agreement that its modern popularity took hold in the 60’s thanks in part to Julia Child’s “Art of French Cooking”. You knew it was a matter of time before that name was invoked, didn’t you?
As varied as the tales of origin are the recipes. Some as depressing as “1 package french onion soup mix” to as complicated as one is interested as making it. I ended up reading though a lot of recipes and then diving in. Quite satisfied with the results. The best advice (seen again and again, actually) was to go slow. The longer cooking process really did bring out these glorious flavors. I also liked something I read about the inclusion of the vinegar, which is that red onions tend to make the broth grey and cloudy, but including a little vinegar clears the waters. I don’t know if that is true, but under that layer of bubbling cheese does lie a lovely soup. Feel free to peek under the covers.
1/4 c butter
3 vidalia onions, sliced thin
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp balsalmic vinegar
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 1/2 cup white wine
3 tbsp flour
4 cup beef broth
sliced bread of choice
4:1 blend of swiss and parmesan cheese to top
In heavy saucepan, cook onions in butter at medium-low heat, stirring regularly for 30 minutes.
Once onion are very soft, increase to high and add sugar, salt, vinegar and thyme and cook another 10 minutes until caramelized.
Add flour and stir until well integrated
Add wine. Stir and scrape to deglaze until wine is mostly gone.
Add broth, decrease heat and simmer 30 minutes
Brush slices of bread with olive oil and toast in over at 400 degrees until brown.
Ladle soup into oven safe bowls, float bread on surface and top with cheese
Place soup in oven set to broil for 3 minutes or so until cheese is melted and begins to brown. Keep an eye on it.
Originally: French Onion