I have a thing for soups. They're like my comfort food, and I love experimenting with new soups. French onion soup has been on my "to try" list for a long time, together with cold soups and consommés.
Decided I'd finally give it a try as it didn't seem that difficult, and was handed a chance to do so when Alex came over for lunch. Count on a long preparation time for this one, as even though it doesn't require blending, it does require a lot of slow cooking and simmering and extensive preparation.
Recipe courtesy of J.C. Yeah, Jesus loved onions too. Just kidding, it's Caesar's secret recipe. No, kidding, it is, once again, one of Julia's.
French onion soup (Serves 8)
700g or slightly more than 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp flour
8 cups boiling brown stock (but more advisable to use 1/3 stock and 2/3 water)
1/2 cup of white wine
Rounds of toasted bread
1 to 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese (but I'd use mozzarella)
Those little flecks you see in the stock are bits of a beef stock cube I added, as I was afraid it would be too diluted by the water I had added earlier. Do not be tempted to do this, as those little stock cubes are damn salty.
Cook the onions in the oil over very low heat in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes, until they begin to colour and turn golden.
Meanwhile, put your stock-water mixture on to boil.
Once your onions are nicely golden, sprinkle on the sugar and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or till your onions turn an even, deep golden brown. Mine took 15 minutes to reach a dark brown colour, but possibly my heat was a little too strong.
Add the flour and stir for a few minutes, making sure no flour lumps are left intact.
Off the heat, pour in the boiling liquid and add the wine. Simmer partially covered for 30 minutes more, skimming if necessary. Do not boil or over-simmer or your soup will become very salty. This soup benefits from two to three tablespoons of cognac stirred in just before serving, if you have any, but it's not a disaster if you don't. Season for taste, checking especially for saltiness.
Divide your soup into tureens, float your bread rounds on the soup, and top with grated cheese. Place them in a 160ºC oven for twenty minutes or until the cheese has melted and is starting to bubble (mozzarella or parmesan work well in this respect).
Finish by browning your cheese with a blowtorch or under a broiler.
Not much to look at, it's true, but with a little care and refinement, no reason why it would not do for polite company.
Warning: This soup is HOT. At no point in the cooking or serving process should you spill any of it on yourself or on your guests. Of course, to serve it less than scalding hot is unpardonable.