02 January 2010

Le Soupe a l'Oignon avec un petit Croque Monsieur

I've been waiting since early April to tackle the soup lovingly known as French Onion Soup. I went garage sale-ing with a very dear friend, and I picked up some little white pots that I knew would be perfect for the soup. I knew that they were just going to be sitting in one of my cabinets though. You see, when the hubby was gone and my sister was living with me, I knew I would be eating it alone if I cooked it. Sweet Honey Mim is not going to like this post almost as much as she would not have liked to come home to this soup for dinner. 

I've been trying to plan our meals for every night for each week so that I don't come across the problem we had when I was in high school ("Hey mom, what's for dinner?" "I don't know. What would you like?" "I don't know. Just make something.") And on and on it would go until my mom finally made the rule of whoever asks that question will be the one responsible for making dinner. Anyway, I'd been planning on making this soup for the past week and was ecstatic to finally be putting my crocks to good use. I went searching for the perfect recipe. I was shocked to see just how many variations there are to something that is essentially pub food. I finally found three similar recipes that each had only minor variations and decided to put them together to make my own recipe.

I first turned to the Bible of French food, Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking (Hey Anne, I finally got to use the cookbook). That woman was a genius! I then pulled out my other love, Jamie Oliver and his Jamie at Home. Lastly, I turned to The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. Following Ms. Child's recipe almost completely, I added a little bit of Jamie and a touch of Barbara to come up with something my hubby and I both enjoyed. I hope you like it too...

Soupe a l'Oignon Gratinee avec un petit Croque Monsieur (it just sounds cooler in French)
Recipe by Julia, Jamie, Barbara, and me

5 medium sized onions, thinly sliced (I used 3 white and 2 yellow)
3 Tbl butter (homemade...yumyum)
2-3 glugs olive oil
Handful of fresh sage leaves (I think I used about 8-10, but I didn't really count it out)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
3 Tbl flour
2 qts boiling beef stock (I used 2 - 32 oz. boxes of beef broth)
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth (Red Bicyclette chardonnay for me)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbl cognac (or brandy cause that's what I had on hand)
Fresh baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 cup coarsely chopped ham
1-2 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese

  1. Preheat broiler. Place the butter, oil, and sage leaves in a large stock pot on medium heat. Heat until butter is melted and add onions. Cover and cook the onions slowly for about 15 minutes.
  2. Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown (trust me on this, don't rush this step, and don't leave the lid on; my onions never colored since I forgot the lid).
  3. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes. Add the beef stock/broth and the wine. Season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning as needed.
  4. Just before serving, stir in the cognac/brandy. Ladle into soup bowls. Place slices of baguette to cover the top of the soup. Top with a bit of the ham and gruyere, place bowls on a baking sheet, and set on the top rack under the broiler. Allow to broil for approximately 5 minutes, or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Serve with extra pieces of baguette and butter.
To toast baguette slices and make them more like croutons (yumyum), place the slices on a baking sheet inside the oven as it preheats for approximately 5 minutes. Turn the slices over and heat for another 3 minutes. You want to leave them in long enough to get crisp, not long enough to start to color. I preheated my oven to 375 first and then bumped it up to broil after I was done with the baguette only because my oven is fickle and would have just torched them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of my favourite soups - french onion - I can almost taste it over here! You do realise you're single-handedly going to raise the house prices in your neighbourhood?

Alternatively, you could make a good living of cooking in the homes of people who are trying to sell. Buyers love the smell of good home cooking wafting through.