French Onion Soup – Onion Soup Gratinée

By Greg Norkus, Café Cent-Dix, with Chef Strong Coffee’s adjustments
  • 2 t butter
  • Olive oil
  • 4 lbs of different onions (vidalia, red, white, yellow, shallots) sliced into half-moon pieces 1/4″ thick
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • 3 more garlic cloves, crushed (for garlic butter to put on bread)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts fancy beef bone broth (homemade ideal), or chicken broth (use chicken broth if using cartons bought at the store)
  • 6 oz / 175 ml Tawny port wine (meaning any nice Portuguese port)
  • Toasted baguette or batard slices, cut diagonally, roughly 3-4 small slices per crock
  • Leaves from 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 lb Gruyere and/or French Comte cheese, coarsely grated
  • Chives or green onions, finely chopped
  • Splash of cognac (opt)

Action Plan

Heat butter and a drizzle of oil in lg heavy pot. Add onions, water and salt.

Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until onions caramelize to a light / medium brown color. Constantly scrape browned bottom bits up into the rest of the onions. This can take an hour or 1 1/2 hrs – if they aren’t caramelized and cooked enough, then the soup will be watery. This process removes their water and caramelizes their sugar. Don’t let them get burned or too brown.

Turn on the broiler. Slice the bread 3/8″ thick and toast it on a sheet under the broiler – it won’t take long! About 1-2 m per side.

Soften some butter for the bread.

Add sliced garlic and thyme leaves to the onions, cook 5 mins.
Add 1-3 T flour for thicker soup: stir constantly until a thick paste is formed, add 1/2 c of the broth, stirring.

Turn up the heat. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, cooking it until half the wine burns off.
Add rest of broth and a bay leaf, bring to a boil and simmer partially-covered for 15 mins.
Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the Tawny PORT and optional splash of cognac, and the soup is done.

Mix soft butter with crushed garlic; spread on the bread.

To serve: Use oven-safe thick soup bowls. Fill the bowls 1/3 of the way with soup, put a bread slice in (TOASTED SIDE DOWN), then some cheese on the bread (~ 2 oz of grated or sliced cheese). Add more soup to the bowl, then another slice of bread toasted side down with cheese. Put a heaping amount of grated cheese on top.

Place on baking sheet and put under the broiler. Broil the soup until the cheese melts and browns a little – only 1-2 m.

Sprinkle on some chives and/or parsley for color.

The best way to eat it is to get a piece of the cheese/toast with every bite. So use the spoon to carve out that piece on two-three sides each time!

Photos and cinematography by smboro

French Onion Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 t butter
  • Olive oil
  • 4 lbs of different onions (vidalia, red, white, yellow, shallots) sliced into half-moon pieces 1/4″ thick
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves sliced thin
  • 3 more garlic cloves, crushed (for garlic butter to put on bread)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts fancy beef bone broth (homemade ideal), or chicken broth (use chicken broth if using cartons bought at the store)
  • 6 oz / 175 ml Tawny port wine (meaning any nice Portuguese port)
  • Toasted baguette or batard slices, cut diagonally, roughly 3-4 small slices per crock
  • Leaves from 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 lb Gruyere and/or French Comte cheese, coarsely grated
  • Chives or green onions, finely chopped
  • Splash of cognac (opt)

Directions

  1. Heat butter and a drizzle of oil in lg heavy pot. Add onions, water and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until onions caramelize to a light / medium brown color. Constantly scrape browned bottom bits up into the rest of the onions. This can take an hour or 1 1/2 hrs – if they aren’t caramelized and cooked enough, then the soup will be watery. This process removes their water and caramelizes their sugar. Don’t let them get burned or too brown.
  2. Turn on the broiler. Slice the bread 3/8″ thick and toast it on a sheet under the broiler – it won’t take long! About 1-2 m per side. Soften some butter for the bread. Add sliced garlic and thyme leaves to the onions, cook 5 mins. Add 1-3 T flour for thicker soup: stir constantly until a thick paste is formed, add 1/2 c of the broth, stirring. Turn up the heat. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, cooking it until half the wine burns off. Add rest of broth and a bay leaf, bring to a boil and simmer partially-covered for 15 mins.
  3. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Add the Tawny PORT and optional splash of cognac, and the soup is done. Mix soft butter with crushed garlic; spread on the bread.
  4. To serve: Use oven-safe thick soup bowls. Fill the bowls 1/3 of the way with soup, put a bread slice in (TOASTED SIDE DOWN), then some cheese on the bread (~ 2 oz of grated or sliced cheese). Add more soup to the bowl, then another slice of bread toasted side down with cheese. Put a heaping amount of grated cheese on top. Place on baking sheet and put under the broiler. Broil the soup until the cheese melts and browns a little – only 1-2 m. Sprinkle on some chives and/or parsley for color.
  5. The best way to eat it is to get a piece of the cheese/toast with every bite. So use the spoon to carve out that piece on two-three sides each time!



Credit: eat-well-travel-often.com

According to legend, onion soup was invented when King Louis XV found himself stranded at a hunting lodge late one night with nothing in the pantry except onions, butter, and champagne.

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