Wednesday, January 30, 2008

French Onion Soup

My family has always liked French Onion Soup. From time to time, I've tried actual recipes, but for the most part, I've used the Joyful in, Joy has joyfully flung onion chunks into a food processer to slice them, dumped the slices into a crock pot, reconstituted beef boullion into beef broth which I poured over the slices, added seasonings, and let it simmer all day. After basically ignoring it from breakfast time until dinner, during the last half hour, I added a bit of wine or cooking sherry for flavor, and some Kitchen Bouquet for color, and then I at least flirted with tradition by serving it in the familiar way. I sliced bread and toasted it, put the toast on top the soup, grated cheese on top of that, and broiled the individual bowls of cheese-topped soup briefly to get that browned, melty cheese thing going.

Michael brought me a recipe for "the best" French Onion Soup that he found in one of his news magazines. (January 18th, 2008 issue)

He was drooling when he handed it to me. I scanned it briefly, estimated there were about 4,592 steps involved and really was not moved to try it. Next thing I knew, Michael had picked up canned beef broth at the store "in case we had time to try it." Because rather than reconstituting beef boullion granules, he wanted "real beef broth" on hand....again.....just in case.

Then some unsalted butter showed up, and he started bargaining.

He'd help. I still wasn't moved.

I countered with a quick synopsis of the steps involved and emphasized the paragraphs in the recipe involving scraping the crust off the pan, and deglazing, etc..... I tried to make it sound like it took a lot of effort and clean up.

He'd clean up. That did it. He was serious. He wanted to try this soup. Well, I was actually getting interested at this point, because, let's face it.....I have a nonstick dutch oven and anything burned onto that pan comes off like a breeze. Even scorched rice pudding. Ask me how I know.

So after he left for work today, I got out the recipe.

I got out the onions. I sliced four pounds of them. By hand. No food processor. Aren't you impressed? And I didn't even cry. I've discovered that if you squint and scrunch your eyes up tightly while slicing onions, you won't even notice the onion fumes. You might notice if you mistakenly cut off a finger......but the fumes are not an issue. No tears!

I put the unsalted butter into the well-oiled dutch oven and added the onion slices and a teaspoon of salt (!) and put the whole thing in a 400 degree oven for an hour, covered.

I stirred them and, per the receipe, set the lid adjar (as you can see below, I was following this recipe to the letter, peoples!) and put them back in the 400 degree oven.

The next stir (one hour later) found them becoming nice and golden brown. Of course, the onion smell permeated the whole house (not entirely a plus) and the concentrated onion odor when I opened the dutch oven to stir them nearly peeled off my eyebrows. But really, this was pretty effortless.

Another 40 minutes passed. I took them out of the oven and put the dutch oven on a burner, and cooked them over medium heat about 20 minutes, til they were really getting dry and the bottom of the pan developed that "crust" the recipe mentioned which I dutifully scraped up and stirred into the onions.

Then I added some water and repeated the 'cooking til dry and scraping' routine three times. Again, I followed the recipe to the letter, although I don't really understand the need for that part. Deglazing once seemed sufficient - nothing really changed with the subsequent repeating of that step (except I added some sherry instead of water and cooked it down, the last time).

Then I added some beef and chicken broths, a bit more water, thyme and one bay leaf, and let the whole thing cook another 30 minutes.

By now, the onion smell was noticeable three houses down. Very, very rich onion smell. Mr. B returned home from the Land of Lost Packages just in time to sample the almost finished product.

He tasted it at least four times.....just to be sure, you see.....and pronounced it delicious. So, we finished up with the traditional serving. Topped with toast and cheese, it was broiled until bubbly and browned.

And the portion of the Peanut Gallery which was present, approved!

Oddly enough, I think I will make it again. It was really good.

My "Joyful" method was made an onion-flavored soup that was hearty and filling.... But I really think this recipe was more like what Mr. B and Karen order in restaurants and they enjoyed it enough that I consider the recipe to be a keeper! And the onion smell? Eradicated easily with my Yankee candle (Santa's Cookies scent)!! Yum!

In other Christmas tree is finally dusted off down and packed away. It's January 30th. I do have some decorating standards, after all! But not many!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, it LOOKS sensational, so if it tastes as good as it looks, I may have to try it, too. Notice I said "may"....I don't have the nifty no-stick dutch oven thingie, so that may be an issue. I'll see what I have that might substitute!! Have a sunny day! Love and hugs from the Charcoal Lambie