To me, there is no food as comforting as soup and no soup as comforting as French Onion Soup. DO NOT eat the stuff from a package, make this.
Yes, it does take a while, and you may cry from slicing all those onions, but when you break through the cheese-topped bread and smell the onions which have been cooked in butter and mixed with cognac (not optional, no matter what the recipe says), and taste the combination of those onions and the beef stock and the Gruyere cheese, it will have been worth the time and the tears.
Here’s how it goes:
Slice a lot of onions.
Cook those onions in butter and oil.
Then cook them some more.
When they’re this colour, they’re done.
While the onions are cooking, grate the cheese.
Slice the French bread.
Paint the bread with butter, then toast it in the oven.
Assemble the soup.
Et voila, soupe à l’oignon gratinée.
Soupe a l’Oignon, Maison
(Homemade French Onion Soup)
From The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child.
Serves 6 – 8
A heavy 4-quart saucepan or casserole
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
About 1-1/2 lbs. or 5-6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
2 quarts hot beef bouillon (you may dilute canned bouillon with 2 cups of water)
1 cup red or white wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. sage
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter and oil in a large, deep saucepan; add the onions and stir up to coat with the butter. Cover the pan and cook over moderately low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and translucent. Then uncover the pan, raise heat to medium high, and stir in the salt and sugar. (Sugar, by caramelizing, helps onions to brown.) Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions have turned an even deep golden brown.
Then lower heat to moderate, stir in flour, and add a bit more butter if flour does not absorb into a paste with the onions. Cook slowly, stirring continually, for about 2 minutes to brown flour lightly. Remove from heat.
Pour in about cup of the hot bouillon, stirring with a wire ship to blend flour and bouillon. Add the rest of the bouillon and the wine, bay and sage, and bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly for 30-40 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper, and the soup is done. If you are not serving immediately, let cool uncovered, then cover and refrigerate.
Serve with French bread and grated Parmesan cheese, or bake with cheese as follows.
Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée
1 loaf of French bread
Olive oil or melted butter
The preceding soup, brought to the simmer
Optional: 1/4 cup cognac
A peeled 2-inch raw onion
A 2-ounce piece Swiss cheese
1-1/2 cups grated Swiss and Parmesan cheese, mixed
Cut bread into slices 1 inch thick, paint lightly with oil or butter and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Place in the middle level of a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until beginning to turn brown lightly; turn and brown lightly for 15 to 20 minutes on the other side. These are called croûtes.
Pour the hot soup into a serving casserole or baking dish. Pour in the optional cognac, grate in the onion, and shave the piece of cheese into fine slivers and strew over the soup. Place a Shave the 2-ounce piece of cheese into fine slivers and strew over the soup. Place a closely packed layer of croûtes over the top of the soup and spread on the grated cheese, covering the croûtes completely. Sprinkle a tablespoon of oil or butter over the cheese, and set the soup on the middle rack of a preheated 350° oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until soup is bubbling slowly and cheese has melted.
Meanwhile, heat your broiler to red hot; just before serving, run the soup under the broiler for a moment to brown the cheese lightly. Pass the remaining croûtes in a bread tray along with the soup.
ps. One more sleep!