A couple of weeks ago, as I was gearing up to have a couple of friends over for a Thursday night dinner, I was wracking my brain for a recipe that I could make in advance but would delight my guests.
Needing some inspiration, I decided to spend a bit of quality time with Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Do you have this book? If not, you should absolutely get it. It would make a wonderful Christmas present for the chef in your life! Or for yourself. 😉
After perusing several recipes, the answer was suddenly obvious to me. The only thing to make for my Thursday guests was French Onion Soup!
I don’t know that I would have had thought to try this dish if it weren’t for our recent trip to Paris. The boys ordered French Onion Soup with just about every meal, and despite their disappointment when they discovered French Onion Soup is just simply “Onion Soup” in France, they loved it.
I don’t know if it was their influence, or Julia’s, but I just had to make this dish. Julia Child’s version is the closest that I’ve had to the “real deal” in Paris, and so if you’re thinking about making French Onion Soup, I’d highly recommend going with her version.
One thing to note about this recipe is that it does take a bit of time to make. It’s great to make a day or so in advance if you’re having friends over. However, if you work a 9-5 like I do and come home to cook this, either plan for some leftovers to eat that night, or be prepared to eat late!
You’ll need: A large 4-qt saucepan, a large pot for the beef broth, and ovenproof soup tureens.
Prior to making this soup, I stopped by one of my favorite stores, Sur La Table, and picked up these tureens. They just happened to be on sale when I found them, and looks like they still are, so hurry!
But let’s get back to the soup… to start, you’ll need to thinly slice all of your onions. You’ll need about 1.5 lbs of sliced onions (about 4-5 medium onions).
Toss in the onions and cover the pan. Your pan will be quite full of onions, but they’ll start to cook down.
After the onions have cooked for about 15 minutes, uncover the pan, and raise heat to medium-high. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, while stirring frequently.
Much like me, Jerry is highly food-motivated, so he loves kicking around his Kong for the little treats that fall out. And I love watching him. 🙂
Your onions will continue to cook down. At this point, you’ll want to start heating up the beef broth.
Since you’ll be hanging in the kitchen, watching your onions for a while, you might want to pour yourself a glass of wine. You know, just to give yourself something to do too. 😉
You’ll know they’re done when they look like this:
While the soup simmers, measure 3 tb of cognac and start slicing your baguette.
When the soup is done, turn off the burner and skim the top of the surface to get rid of the excess fat. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Add cognac, and season to taste. Then pour into your cute little tureens.
Sprinkle with some cheese…
And top with more bread and MORE cheese on top.
Then comes the hardest part… waiting. After all that goodness goes into the bowl, it cooks in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Then, to make the cheese and bread nice and golden brown on top, turn your oven on broil for 1-2 more minutes. It might be hard to wait, but trust me, it’s well worth it!
Serve with a side salad to balance out the cheesiness, or extra piece of bread for dipping if you’re feeling a bit more gluttonous. 🙂
French Onion Soup de Julia
- 1 1/2 lbs (about 5 cups) of thinly sliced yellow onions
- 3 tb butter
- 1 tb oil (I used canola)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 3 tb flour
- 2 quarts beef broth or stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tb cognac
- Baguette, thinly sliced
- Shredded Emmental or Gruyère cheese (I bought both and mixed the two!)
Heat butter and oil on medium in a large (4 qt) covered saucepan. Toss in the onions and cook for 15 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high, take the lid off and stir in the salt and sugar, then cook for an additional 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently. Onions will turn golden brown as they caramelize – while they’re browning, start heating beef broth in a separate pot, and bring to a boil. Then, sprinkle flour into onions when they’re golden brown. Stir for 3 minutes.
Turn off the heat on the onions and blend in the boiling beef broth. Add wine and season to taste. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, while partially covered. When the soup is done, skim off the excess fat on the surface.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Stir the cognac into the soup, then spoon into oven-proof tureens. Sprinkle some cheese into the soup, then float the baguette slices on top. Top with a bit more cheese, then bake for about 20 minutes. Set oven to broil for the last minute or two to brown the baguette slightly.