I had to work late. Every day.
I needed to wash my hair.
I know, I know, you’re not buying any of this.
It’s just that my mojo, she is gone; my cookbooks are not inspiring me. Add to that the extreme distraction of Life-Changing Plan to Actualize Hopes and Dreams, and you can see why I’ve barely been skulking around the edges of TNS for the last three weeks.
But a gal’s gotta eat, and she might as well eat some kick-ass French onion soup.
It starts with onions. DUH. Three pounds of them, sliced up and chucked into a large dutch oven with a little butter and salt.
They cook down for about fifteen minutes…
…and another fifteen minutes…
… and ANOTHER fifteen minutes, and then they look like this. And then you have to try really hard not to just smear them on the good bread you bought to top the soup, because you love caramelized onions so very much and you are so very hungry and also you are not very patient. You should remind yourself, the next time you make French onion soup, to caramelize an extra pound of onions or two so you can have them to top all your foodstuffs for the next few days.
I deglazed the onion pot with a little white wine and apple cider – I think I learned the cider thing from Alton Brown, and it’s a damn good trick – before dumping in some stock.
Since I’m not a good homemaker, I don’t have quarts of high-quality homemade beef stock in my freezer. Fresh Direct is also apparently a poor homemaker, as they didn’t have any homemade beef stock either, so I used a combination of chicken and veal.
As for additional aromatics, almost all the recipes I looked at for reference used parsley and thyme. I didn’t want to do that because (1) I’m pretty sure that Madame Claude Cafe, which makes the Best of All Possible French Onion Soups, flavors theirs with rosemary and (2) I’ve had a grudge against parsley every since I had to waste 45 minutes of my life making Thomas Keller’s parsley puree.
A few more minutes of simmering, a few pinches of salt and a few splashes of cognac, and it was time for bread and cheese. Aside from being delicious, French onion soup is to be commended for being such a satisfactory vehicle for copious amounts of cheese.
I know gruyere is traditional, but the smell of gruyere makes me hork so I used a nice nutty emmenthal instead. Sue me.
Holy hell, Madame Claude Cafe had better watch out: this soup is the soup-bomb-diggity. Deep, rich, a little sweet, a little salty, and satisfying through and through. The mix of stocks ended up lending it the perfect flavor – the chicken kept the veal from being too over-the-top – and the rosemary was the perfect touch. I don’t even mind that I burned the shit out of my tongue because I couldn’t wait to eat it. Also, I may have eaten more than one bowl, as did Brian.
Surely, this freakishly cold and snowy weekend calls for the making of French onion soup, non? Let me know how it goes. I’ll be cleaning out my closets, searching for my mojo.
(Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset)
French Onion Soup
3 pounds onions, sliced into half-moons
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2/3 c. white wine
1/2 c. apple cider
4 c. chicken stock
4 c. veal stock
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. cognac
cheese of choice
Melt the butter in a large dutch oven of heavy saucepot set over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle with salt. Cover the pot and walk away for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, give the onions a stir. Keep cooking over medium heat until the onions have turned a deep brown, which will take another 30-40 minutes.
Pour in the wine and cider, being sure to scrape up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer until the wine and cider are reduced and syrups, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the stocks and add the rosemary. Simmer for 20-30 minutes so all the flavors can meld. Near the end of the cooking time, stir in the cognac. Check the seasoning; depending on the salt content of your stock, you may need to add more.
To complete the soup, turn on your broiler. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls, float a slice of bread on top and top with a generous amount of shredded cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, bubbly and brown.