‘French onion soup, that sounds wonderful!’ ← One of the first thoughts I had this morning after waking up.
Well, I had to fulfill that thought! Right? I mean how often do you get to have the food you first thought of in the morning!?!?!? Hmmm… well, actually thinking about it now when I want pancakes, oatmeal, toast, eggs, etc. in the morning I make it. This has to be the first time I planned my dinner upon waking up! But hey, don’t worry I didn’t spend all day working on the soup. It, in reality, only took a few minutes.
Super Large Side Note / Rant / Tangent
The past couple days I’ve poured over French cookbooks (new and ridiculously old – the oldest ones were really really difficult to read. I don’t have a very good grasp of French especially since I can only read some of it. You really don’t want to hear me attempt to speak it!), and books on French history and French culinary history. Honestly, our perspective of ‘authentic foods’ from each culture has changed over the years. I mean, at what point is a food considered ‘authentic’ to the region? French onion soup probably has traveled across the continent and has had several names. I imagine that we just attribute it to France now, but how did the soup come about?
Catherine de’ Medici, daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Medici family that had a strong influence during (preceding and following) the Renaissance), married France’s King Henry II at the age of fourteen. When she moved to France, she supposedly brought chefs, jesters, and things like the fork. (I’m not sure exactly what is true. Apparently, there’s a lot of disagreement to exactly what Catherine de’ Medici brought with her to France. In my opinion, I believe she brought – or had made – specific foods/recipes. I mean, how many immigrants do you know that fully immerse themselves in another culture? Even living in Italy, I often made myself a Hamburger. And nearly every tourist I know usually makes a trip to fast food places with which they are familiar. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Catherine de’ Medici brought some sort of culinary work with her.) My point of all this being, how French are dishes like French onion soup? And at what point does something become a traditional dish? (In the case of Catherine de’ Medici almost 500 years have passed!)
Regardless, today France’s French Onion Soup (as it’s called in America) is attributed to have its origins in France. And so, let’s leave the attribution with France itself, and let’s learn how to make this delicious soup!
French Onion Soup
French onion soup isn’t like most soups. It isn’t anything like a bisque or a chowder. I think the closest comparison would be cabbage soup. French onion soup is essentially reduced broth with onions. (How simple is that?) Let’s get cracking! Let the soup making commence!
Run to your cabinet, fridge, or pantry and grab the following ingredients:
- 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of butter
- 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions (sliced)
- 1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme, and a pinch of parsley or ½ gram (½ tablespoon) of herbes de Provence)
- 2 liters (2.1 quarts) of chicken broth or beef broth (tepid)
Essentially, you are going to sauté the onions until translucent and add the broth. Then cook down until roughly 1/2 of the broth has evaporated. The process is really simple.
Sautéing the onions will be the first thing you do. (I recommend you do it in a pot so you won’t have to change from a pan to a pot later.) You need to sauté them until they are translucent. I have seen soups where the onions are caramelized, but I’ll leave that decision up to you. Personally, I like a slight caramelization because it adds both flavor and color to the soup. It’ll take between 5-10 minutes before the onions become translucent, so decide then what you’d like to do!
Once the onions are translucent or caramelized, crush the spices add stir them into the onions. Remember, the fresher they are the stronger the flavor! Let the spices sit in the onions for a minute. (If the onions are translucent, don’t let them brown. Whether the onions are translucent or caramelized, don’t let them burn when you add the spices! Believe me, it doesn’t add a whole lot of flavor to it!)
Now comes the easy part. Slowly add the broth to the pot. Add about a quarter of a liter at a time. (This will allow you to keep the broth simmering the entire time.) Once all the broth is in the pot, allow the soup to simmer for an hour. In roughly an hour (maybe more) half of the soup will have evaporated. Please note that the longer you let the French onion soup simmer the richer the flavor will be!
As always, salt and pepper to taste before serving.
I know it doesn’t look like your classic French onion soup but that is how you make it! If you do want that classic look, then pour some of the soup into ramekins or oven-safe bowls. Place some croutons on top, and then a bunch of grated cheese. Toss the soup in the oven and let the broiler melt the cheese. Remove the soup from the oven when the cheese has just started to bubble. Looks AMAZING right?!?
Let me know what you think!