I made French onion soup for Zach once before, a few years ago, using cheap, canned beef broth, and it hadn't turned out very well at all. I remember it being a sort of watery mess (that Zach very valiantly ate) so when I saw a recipe in Cuisine at Home, I thought it might be time to give it a try again. This time, I bought Kitchen Basics Brand stock (which I sort of remember as getting very good marks from America's Test Kitchen) which I hoped would give the soup more depth of flavor. The recipe also called for 3 different colors of onion- I'd like to think this would add more flavor too, but I couldn't really say. It also called for Gruyeres for the topping, but we weren't at the good cheese store and I didn't want to buy half a pound of overpriced Gruyeres of dubious quality so we decided on Edam instead.
The soup was really easy to make, although it took a bit of time. All of the onions and 3 cloves of garlic went into the dutch oven and sweated for 10 minutes before caramelizing for 20 or so more (I added some dried herbs here since I forgot to get the fresh ones that the recipe called for). Then I ended up adding quite a bit more broth than the recipe called for, to get the right onion/broth ratio. The soup cooked for another half an hour or so, then I topped each bowl (or ramekin as the case actually was) with a piece of toast and some Edam cheese and broiled them in the toaster.
I was actually really surprised at how well the soup turned out. The broth was slightly sweet from the onions but still had a deep beef flavor and the nutty, creamy taste of the cheese went perfectly with it. I may be a convert.
(One note-- French Onion Soup doesn't have to be full of fat and therefore supposedly bad for you. This recipe only has 1 T. of added oil and beef stock is generally fat free. As long as you don't go too crazy with the cheese on top, the soup is relatively low-cal and fat)
French Onion Soup
Serves 4-5 as a main course
Adapted from Cuisine at Home
1 large yellow, white and red onion, sliced into thin half moon shaped disks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1T. olive oil
1 t. each, dried oregano and thyme
3 c. beef broth
2 c. chicken broth
10 or so slices of french bread, cut 1/4-1/2 in. thick and toasted
3-4 oz. Edam cheese, shredded
- Heat a dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat with the olive oil.
- Add the onions and garlic, cover and sweat for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cover and raise heat to medium high, add spices and cook onions for a further 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until they have reduced in size and a caramelized (golden brown in color and sweet in flavor).
- Add stocks, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes (this is a good time to get the bread and cheese ready).
- Portion out the soup into oven safe bowls, top with bread and a bit of cheese and broil till the cheese is melty. Serve immediately.