I think one of the many reasons I love the fall and winter is because I love the food. There is just something about the smell of an oak fire being stoked up in the chimney. I love when the morning air is cold and crisp. It just makes you want to go grab a cinnamon scented Glade Plug-In and sniff that bad boy.
French onion soup is a classic. It is easily among the top five all time greatest soups. It is simple, delicious, and...delicious. It basically consists of beef stock, caramelized onions, cheese, bread, and some basic seasonings. Doesn't get much easier. I swear to you - I think I could eat this soup every day and I'm not even super crazy about eating onions, so you know it's good.
If you want the detailed recipe, you may read on but I must warn that if you do, your laptop may spontaneously combust because this recipe is smokin' hot. Okay, then...you're a brave soul. Just know, I gave you fair warning:
- 1 Large White Onion
- 3 to 4 Cups of Beef Stock (do not use broth or for God sake don't put a boullion cube in there..it is not the same thing)
- 3 Tbsp Cream Sherry (optional but I think it adds a huge depth of flavor which I don't do without)
- High Quality Swiss Cheese (shaved or sliced at home)
- 2-3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 2 Tbsp of Flour
- Fresh Thyme
Chop onion into large slices. Go ahead, you’re a big boy now. Now place beef stock in a 2-3qt sauce pan and warm on medium low. Also take the sourdough baggett, cut it up, and toast it very well. It should be pretty hard but not quite as dry as a crouton.
Now, heat a sauté pan over medium and drop in onions once the pan is heated. Dash onions with bit of salt to draw out moisture in the pan. Once the onions begin to caramelize, begin turning but not continuously. As the onions start to get some color, begin adding small amounts of butter to deglaze the pan and add more color and flavor. Allow the onions to caramelize slowly and don't rush by turning up the heat.
Once the onions are tender and completely soft, add the recommended amount of butter in the recipe along with the flour. Stir to form a roux. Once the butter and flour have started to take on a light brown color (this will happen quickly), add the cream sherry, if you plan to use it, and deglaze the pan. Next begin adding hot stock 1 cup at a time and stir. Once the stock begins to simmer, continue by stirring until it thickens then add more stock until all the stock is used. The soup should not be thick but it shouldn't be water thin either. Add salt, pepper, and herbs to your taste.
Once you're satisfied with the flavor try to contain yourself - avoid inhaling the soup directly from the sauté pan. Instead, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Ladle the soup into oven safe bowls or ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Now place the bread on top of the soup. Cover the bread with slices of Swiss cheese. Place in the oven near the top and bake until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. If you want this to happen quickly, you can place the oven on broil but you must be very attentive or you'll burn the cheese.
Remove soup from the oven and give it about 5 minutes or so to cool. The soup and bowls will be hotter than you can imagine and it takes forever to cool off, so be careful. Your tongue will thank you for blowing on each bite.