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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Recipe of the Month-Souper Douper

Monday, January 31, 2011 @ 08:01 AM

032Can we just say that winter is completely hard core this year!  I mean I am starting to feel like I should expect snow every day, because that is pretty much what it’s been like around here.  Now I would not say that I am suffering from seasonal affective disorder quite yet, but I am noticing I am much less motivated to do anything that requires leaving the house, and well there is that whole comfort food thing, it is certainly in full force lately!

When it is especially cold and crummy out, thick soup or chili are very appealing, both for the warm factor as well as they are dishes you can eat slowly and savor.  One soup I have always loved is French Onion, the richness of the cheese, those softening croutons that soak up the flavor, and if it’s made right, a broth that is truly savory.  I have tried many, many bowls of this soup in my day and I must admit that I think I have become some what of a critic.  Unfortunately, not every bowl of this delicious soup is the same and I think the French would be down right outraged at some of the imposters with its name.  And while I have tried many versions of this dish, both good and bad, I have honestly never attempted to make it myself, not that I thought it would be hard, but I assumed a dish (with hopefully those flavor nuances) would take a bit of time to achieve, and frankly I can be lazy sometimes. 

So when I was deciding what recipe to try out this month, I took one look out the window and I knew what was in order, I was going to see just what all goes into making French onion soup.  Also, Adam has been on a real French onion soup kick lately, so I thought I would see what he thought of mine, well Tyler Florence’s, but my version of that.

French Onion Soup

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
55 min
Level:
Easy
Serves:
4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere

Directions

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

Source

I must admit I was immediately impressed that this dish takes about an hour to create, soup with ingredients that take that while to put together and simmer must be good.  But to start I had the fun task of slicing up 4 onions, now the recipe did not specify what type, but I tend to prefer sweeter onions in this dish, so I went with yellow.  From there its’ time to melt the butter over medium heat with the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme and cook down the onions for 25 minutes.  I decided to forgo buying fresh Thyme for this dish and just use dried (since the rest of it typically goes to waste), it worked out just perfectly and I thought tasted just as wonderful, but we’ll get to the taste lata!

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At first I was skeptical when I put the onions in that it would only take 25 minutes for them to cook down, but when the timer hit 25 minutes, they were perfect and smelled wonderful.  After that time they were caramelized, and it was time to add one cup of red wine, I just grabbed a dry one that we already had on hand.

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The recipe stated that it would take about 5 minutes for the wine to cook off, It actually took about 10 in my case, you just want to make sure the onions are devoid of most of the liquid, that will be how you can determine they are ready.  Now it is time to add the flour, which you cook off over a low heat for 10 minutes.  And then the final step, add the beef broth and simmer for 10 more minutes.

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So all of that labor of love is really just getting those onions and broth ready and flavorful, the next step adds the pizazz and creaminess.  Tyler explains two ways you can top your soup, either sprinkle the cheese on the French bread croutons and brown them in the oven before adding them to the soup or place soup, croutons, and cheese under the broiler to bubble, I chose the boiler route so the soup would be nice and hot and that cheesy to be extra bubbly.

I brought French bread that was already sliced, so it was not crispy to start, which is not what you want with this soup as you don’t want it to get too soggy too fast.  So I cooked my slices for about 10 minutes at 350 with a little olive oil, you can determine if this is necessary based on the bread you purchase.  I actually did this step while the broth was still cooking, so they would be ready when it was time to place all of the pieces together.

To assemble I ladled all of the soup into 4 large bowls, placed 3 croutons on 2 of bowls, sprinkled A LOT of gruyere cheese on top, and placed those 2 bowls under the broiler.  We decided to save the other 2 bowls without the toppings, so it would be fresh when we wanted to eat these leftovers.

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Let me just say now, these bowls were huge.  We probably could have divided this dish further and created 6 or 8 portions, but our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, but although filling, it was super delicious and just what we wanted on a cold snowy night.

TASTE: Well considering I practically licked my bowl clean and was stuffed for about the next hour, it is safe to assume it tasted good.  Not only was this the perfect blend of broth, onions, croutons, and cheese, the broth itself was exactly how you want it to taste.  It was a rich beefy flavor, but the addition of thyme really made the flavor go above and beyond.  And the sweet onions were the perfect complement and there were plenty of them, which some soups of this variety seem to often lack.  At first Adam was skeptical there was enough cheese because it was shredded, but he quickly changed his tune when he began to dig to the bottom.

EASE OF PREPARATION: Although I was convinced that soup that takes an hour or more to make could become difficult, this dish really wasn’t.  I love that a dish that has this much flavor is really not too hard to create, rather it just takes tending to and making sure the ingredients are added at the right time and simmered enough.

COST: For the most part this dish is not very expensive to create, another great feature, a dish that seems gourmet, but does not cost a lot.  The only ingredient that was borderline expensive was the gruyere cheese, but when you divide it up among how many servings this creates it works out to be pretty cost effective.  And outside of the cheese, this soup really does not require a lot of ingredients.  We did decide that next time, we likely would choose a different cheese though, because although the gruyere was tasty, it is almost too melty and creamy (I know almost impossible), but this stuck to the insides of our mouths a little too much, so again a different cheese could cut down on the cost.

COMPLEXITY: As I mentioned above although time consuming, this dish isn’t very difficult at all.  I am so glad to know now that I could easily whip up some of this deliciousness when I have time. 

PORTION SIZE:  As you can see from those bowls, we ladled this soup out into 4 very large portions and just had that be our dinner.  Even just eating the soup, we were totally full and Adam regretted munching on some food before this, because he filled up too fast.  But it is safe to say that this recipe could easily feed 8 if you were serving it up as an appetizer before a meal. 

This soup will surely be staple in my repertoire from now on, it was that good, so good in fact that although I might tweak the cheese I don’t see the point in venturing to try other broths because this was amazing.  We truly enjoyed this dish and are certainly excited that there are leftovers.**  This dish was a real winner and I am glad to give it 4 1/2 Little Piggies.

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** We did enjoy those leftovers 2 nights later and I was so impressed how easily this dish saved and reheated.  If you are planning to save some I would say save the broth itself separate from the toppings, so they don’t get soggy.  However, just heating this up, it tasted just as good as the first try, a definite keeper!

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