I don't think it's any secret that I LOVE French onion soup. I order it at almost any chance I get, and it never gets old. In fact, in the past week alone I've had it three times: once on Thursday night at the Capital Grille, once on Saturday afternoon at Hooligan's and once tonight ... when I finally made it myself! That's right, as much as I love it, I've never actually made my own French onion soup.
Aside from all the tears shed during onion slicing, it's not difficult, so I'm not sure what was holding me up. I came across an Alton Brown recipe this afternoon and decided now was as good a time as any to give it a try. However, I put a bit of a different spin on in than Alton did. His called for apple cider which I wasn't sure about, so I replaced it with beef broth for a deeper, beefier flavor. I also added Worchestershire sauce, which I thought would be a bold move ... and it was, but maybe not bold in the way I intended. It actually ended up being a bit overpowering, so I'd recommend either omitting it or reducing it. Oh, and of course you're supposed to top the soup with gruyere, but the dumpy Pick 'n Save I went to this afternoon didn't have gruyere, so I was stuck with gouda. Still good, but would be made better with the right cheese.
The rest of the recipe was awesome. And the best part is that it gave me another chance to use the food torch. Yay!
Jen's Ooh La La French Onion Soup
3 tablespoons butter
4 sweet onions, sliced into thin half moons
2 cups white wine
1 can (10 oz.) beef consomme
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 slices French bread
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices gouda
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add layer of onions, sprinkle with salt. Repeat layers, using all onions. Allow onions to sweat over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Do not stir. (This was the best tip Alton had ... it really seems to speed up the caramelizing process if you let the onions sweat it out and soften first.)
Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are completely caramelized. (Alton says this should take 45 minutes to an hour and the onions should be a mahagony color. I cooked them until they were deep brown for about 20 or 25 minutes, but probably could have gone a few minutes longer ... a couple of my onions still had a little bite.)
Add enough wine to cover onions, turn heat to high and cook until wine is reduced and syrupy in consistency. Transfer to stock pot and add consomme, beef and chicken broths, Worchestershire, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
While soup is simmering, brush both sides of bread with butter. Bake in 400 degree oven, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.
Ladle soup into two bowls (and try your best to fish out the thyme sprigs and bay leaves). Top each bowl with a slice of bread and a slice of cheese. Use torch to melt cheese until bubbly.
So how did my French onion compare to the others I've had recently? I'd say better than Hooligan's, but not as good as the Capital Grille. However, with a few tweaks I'm sure I could get it there :)