I had no idea why am I so intrigue to make this soup. Probably because I was super curious of how a french onion soup taste but there’s no french restaurant around me that I know of sell this soup or even if they do, I bet it cost a fortune. And for me, one of the reason of why I love to cook and bake is because I can make food that I can’t actually buy. I think that this is one of the benefits too of being able to cook. Anyone agree?
A french onion soup is clearly a soup that you can make when you don’t know what to eat but feeling for something decent. The ingredients are pretty basic too but I actually planned on making this dish for about a week (because unfortunately I haven’t got the time to make it and take photos of it). And alas, I did make it and I can tell you, I looooove it!
I think we should get to the cooking part A.S.A.P, shall we?
Yep! First step of this french onion soup is chopping some onions.
Here’s a tip to keep your eyes from tearing, I always put my onions in the fridge overnight. I have no scientific explanation here but it works.
Put some butter and olive oil in a saucepan and let it get melted and hot.
Then just start caramelizing it! This may take a good 7-10 minutes depending the heat of your stove. Here’s a tip, don’t stir it constantly or else it will take forever! I stir mine around every 30 seconds or so. Don’t stress too much about burning the onions. After all, we’re aiming for that caramelization (a.k.a one step before burning something that has a sugar content)
At first it may look like it’s a crazy amount of onions and your pan won’t fit in the end for all that soup, but trust me, it’s not. I first thought that this much onion need a big soup pan but hey, totally miscalculate it. But better save than having hot soup all over your stove (or even myself), right?
Now that you’ve caramelized those onions, deglaze the pan. Traditionally, they use wine to deglaze the flavour bits on the pan, but since nobody in my family drink alcohol on daily basis (just on special holidays), having a bottle of wine in the house is not a common thing in my family, oh and I’m not in my legal age yet so I can’t just stroll in and buy a bottle of wine which I will most probably just use for cooking this french onion soup.
But I do have some mild red wine vinegar so, I used that. For those of you who don’t want to use alcohol at all, you could use other type of vinegar like apple cider vinegar.
Then pour in your stock! I’m using a chicken stock but if you want, you can use beef stock or any stock/broth that you prefer! And also, to make this soup totally vegetarian, you could also substitute for vegetable stock.
Now chuck in the herbs. I put some bay leaves and notice the tea strainer tied with a string? I put some dried thyme and a bit of rosemary in because I don’t have the plant and I don’t feel like buying the whole bunch just to use a couple of stalks and found it tucked away in the back of the fridge a couple of months later.
If you don’t have a tea strainer, you can use a little piece of cloth, filled with the herbs and tied into a little bundle (of joy).
Once the herbs and aromatics are in, just let this nearly finished french onion soup simmer away.
To create that signature french onion top, you’ll need:
The cheese, grated. I used emmental cheese but traditionally, they use a good french cheese which is gruyere.
The bread, sliced. Usually they use some french baguette but for this, I used a semi baguette walnut bread which is a bit softer than a regular baguette and I love that walnut for texture.
Have I ever told you that I am currently learning french?
Anyway, I found the recipe of this soup in one of the recipe book written in french on the library of the french institution (where I’m currently learning french). The book is in french so… It has to be the real deal then, right? But well.. I’ve changed a few things especially on the quantity (the original recipe calls for 10 big onions…) of the soup.
Wait, doesn’t this mean it’s not so traditional anymore? Hemm… Maybe.. I guess? But I did some research on it and nevertheless, it is GOOD!
So.. Let’s just say that it’s my take on a french onion soup then.
P.s: have I told you that this dish is called soupe à l’oignon gratinée? “Soupe à l’oignon” literally means onion soup and “gratinée” is the signature bread and broiled melted cheese top.
French Onion Soup Recipe
Make 2 servings (medium to small bowl portion)
• 3 big onions
• 3 tbsp butter
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 30 – 50 ml white wine/ apple cider vinegar
• 500 ml beef/chicken/vegetables stock
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 tsp dried thyme (or a couple of stalks of fresh ones)
• 1 tsp dried rosemary (or a couple of stalks of fresh ones)
• Salt and pepper
• Baguette + a bit of butter
• 1 clove of garlic (peeled)
• Grated cheese (traditionally gruyere)
How to make it:
1) Peel and slice your onions into thin pieces.
2) Heat up the butter and olive oil, then cook the sliced onions until it caramelized (around 7-10 minutes, on medium high heat).
3) Once the onion caramelized and browned, pour the wine/vinegar to deglaze the pan, don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan for all the flavours.
4) Pour in the stock and put the bay leaves, thyme and rosemary in. Simmer the soup until just started to boil. Add in the salt and pepper.
5) Slice the baguette into pieces (the thickness is to your preference). Smear the butter on the sides and toast them until golden brown. Once toasted, rub the garlic on the bread until the breads become garlicky.
6) Pour the soup into an oven proof bowl, put the garlicy toasted bread on top then cover the top with grated cheese. Put it under the broiler for 5-7 minutes or until melted and slightly golden brown.