Thursday, January 6, 2011

A (Sadly Inferior) French Onion Soup

One of the most memorable culinary experiences of my life happened in the summer of 2005. I was spending 2 weeks going around Western Europe by myself, just me, my duffel bag, and a EURail pass.

Anyway, I was in Paris, and the weather was gorgeous. Like, for serious, gorgeous. I was walking around Montmartre one gorgeous day, and felt a touch peckish. I sat down at a cute little cafe outside, looked at the menu, and ordered onion soup.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I love french onion soup, and I order it all the time. And I've had some pretty darn good ones.

But Oh. Mah. Jeebus.

This soup was astoundingly good. So good, I'm pretty sure my eyes crossed for a bit. It was perfect: salty, sweet, savory, a hint of acid... OY!

Anyway, french onion soup has been spoiled for me ever since. But I've come to realize that, though I can never equal the culinary bliss that was the first spoonful of that soup, I can still enjoy other, albeit inferior, versions. Here is my best effort:

For serving:
  • Oven-safe single-serving crocks or ramekins
  • Grated Gruyere cheese
  • large croutons

  1. Place olive oil in heat pot (like a dutch oven). Add onions and garlic, and cookover very low heat until the onions practically dissolve. This will take a long time (can be upwards of an hour).
  2. Once onions and garlic are super soft, add butter and flour and stir to make a roux. Once the flour is absorbed, cook for 3-4 minutes, to remove raw flour flavor.
  3. Pour in wine and add thyme. Increase heat to medium, bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
  4. Add stock, stirring to make sure stock combines with onions. Remove twigs from thyme, leaving the leaves in the soup. Bring to a boil, and season to taste.
To serve:
  1. Preheat your oven's broiler and place the rack in your oven in the highest position it can be in and still fit the crocks.
  2. Place however many crocks you will be using on a baking sheet. Fill each crock 1/3 full with croutons.
  3. Ladle hot soup into crocks over croutons. Top with a lot of grated cheese. Do not neglect the edges.
  4. Place baking sheet with crocks under the broiler. Watch closely. Let the cheese melt and get bubbly, but keep a close eye, and don't let the cheese burn.
  5. Remove carefully and eat immediately. It will be ridiculously hot. You have been warned.**
** is not responsible for any burns that may occur from overzealous slurping of this soup. Please slurp responsibly.**

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