French Onion Soup For A Frozen Day!

My husband hates onions.  He won’t eat them.  He can’t stand the smell of them.  I have tried hiding them in dishes but he can seek them out like a wolfhound.  When we were dating, I invited him over for supper.  I made Greek salad.  He meticiously took all the onions out of the salad. I thought that was a bit weird but eventually I married him.  He’s out of town so I am cooking onions.

Me, V and the guy I married that hates onions.

Me, V and the guy I married that hates onions.

It’s very cold outside these days and soup is just the answer for a cold day. One of my favourite dishes is French Onion Soup and I don’t mean the frozen hockey puck kind you can get at M & M Meats.  I’ve made it over the years and have researched the various versions.  I even took a look at Julia Child’s version and gave that a go at one point.  I am going to share my version.

Oversized frozen hockey pucks from M&M meats.

Oversized frozen hockey pucks from M&M meats.


  •  4-5 yellow medium-sized onions
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/8 cup of white sugar
  • 1/8 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • French bread (or any other bread you have on hand)
  • Gruyère cheese (or swiss cheese) – shredded
  1. Pour yourself a glass of wine.
  2. Cut the onions and shallot along the grain in thin slices.
  3. Add butter and oil to a large pan at medium heat.
  4. Add onions and shallot to the pan. Let the onion and shallot mixture cook for about 10 minutes until they all sweat down then reduce heat to a simmer.

    Put all the onions in a large pan.

    Put all the onions in a large pan.

  5. Now it’s time to be patient and let the onion mixture to simmer for a long time.  Be patient.  Add the sugar and  some salt and pepper to taste.  Drink that glass of wine.  Do a few loads of laundry.  Stir occastionally so the entire mixture cooks evenly.  This will take at least an hour.  You want to get the mixture to fully caramelize.  They should look like a nice brown carmel colour.


    It takes time to slowly carmelize this mixture but it will be worth it. Be patient.

  6. Add the flour and turn up the heat to medium.  Cook off the flour for about 2 minutes.  Be careful not to burn or overcook the mixture in this step.
  7. Add the wine and cook on medium until the liquid evaporates – about 10 minutes.  You can try any type of red wine.  I used a Malbec and the soup turned out well.  Cooking sherry could work as well but I prefer wine.  I guess if you need to go ‘non-alcy’, you could try red wine vinegar.
  8. Add the water and cook on medium low until the liquid bubbles.  I read somewhere that French Onion Soup was traditionally a ‘peasant’ dish.  Peasants would start it in the morning and let it simmer all day.  They used what was fast and available – water.  There are some recipies that say to add beef or chicken stock.  I suppose you could do that but you can control the salt content with water.
  9. Add the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Add more balsamic vinegar if you like.  You want to try and achieve that right balance of sweet and savoury.  Let the soup simmer on low heat.
  10. Cut the bread in small disc shapes and toast in a toaster oven and lightly toast.  Turn on your oven to about 350 degrees.
  11. Shred the cheese.  You can have as much or as little cheese as you want.  As Racheal Ray says, ‘eyeball it’.
  12. Put the soup in small oven-safe dishes and add the toast and cheese.  Put in the oven until the cheese melts and put on the broiler in the over if you like to achieve an nicely melted dish.  This will take about 10 minutes.
  13. Enjoy with a glass of wine.  I put my leftovers in the fridge and they taste great the next day.

Here are some ‘Neet’ websites that I reviewed while writing this post and recommend:

  • Nearof! – I got the fabulous photo of the M&M hockey puck from this site.  The site is all about the food you eat between the spectacular five-course meals that other food writers seem to obsess over.  I like the author’s review of ordinary food items you can find on your grocery shelf.
  • Starving Off The Land – A great website dedicated to fishing, hunting, growing, gathering, osterying and pigs!  The author raises her own pigs and there is a section on the site where you can watch pigs.  She has even named them!

Neet Stuff – Fall 2013

It has been a busy fall.  I can’t believe it’s November already!  Here’s some ‘neet’ stuff that I would like to share:

  1. Vanessa is in a play!  I have a part-time gig doing marketing and media relations for a community theatre organization in Calgary –
    Workshop Theatre's production of "Miracle on 34th Street"

    Workshop Theatre’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street”

    Workshop Theatre.  One of their upcoming productions is the classic “Miracle on 34th Street”.  They needed some child extras and she auditioned and got a small walk-on part.

    Now I am sure you are thinking it… Stage Mom.  No, I am not.  I truly believe that you should expose your child to many different kinds of experiences and to share your passions.  One of my passions (and part-time occupations) happens to be theatre.

    I have been involved with theatre since I was in high school.  It was something I fell into after my short run as a figure skater.  After I quit skating (another passion), I was looking for a new passion or interest.  I was not really into sports as a kid and was always involved in music.  One of the music teachers in the small town that I grew up in would put on musicals.  Needless to say, I got hooked.  As a natural introvert, acting and performing on stage made me feel confident.  I appreciated the entire process of putting on a play.  Being involved with a band of theatre people made me feel unique and different.  In a small town where sports seemed to be king, being a drama geek somehow empowered me.  I was not like everyone else.  I was different.

    So, will I be a stage mom?  Sure. I will also be a soccer mom, a martial arts mom, a figure skater mom, a snowboarder mom maybe even a  hockey mom.  I’ll be whatever mom that my kid wants me to be.

    There are many lifelong skills that you can gain in theatre and she can gain confidence. I happen to be involved with theatre.  I want her to see me be involved with something that makes me happy.  There are many other passions that I enjoy and I hope to get her involved with those as well.  My husband has a passion for martial arts and guess what she will start as soon as she is old enough.

    Also, if I am going to be hanging out at the theatre, I may as well have my ‘mini-me’ with me.  My husband will be travelling for work in the latter part of November so I can save money. Babysitters are expensive.  They have ‘rink rats’ and they also have ‘theatre rats’. When I told my mother in law that Vanessa was in a play she said:  “Make sure she doesn’t turn out like Miley Cirus”.  (shudder) Don’t worry.  I won’t.  Please shoot me if it’s going in that direction…

  2. I discovered a great little Mexican food store called Tres Marias in Marda Loop here in Calgary.  It is next to Vanessa’s music school.  They have amazing salsas and the mole is to die for!  They make all their products from scratch and they serve lunch items and have a small seating area.  I have been having their burrittos while I wait for Vanessa on Saturday afternoons.
  3. More date nights!  We have been trying to go on more date nights in the last couple of months.  In October we went out to National on 17th Avenue twice!  Yes, we like that place that much.  Their cocktails are very good.  I recommend the “Hound Dog Hooch” and I think they make the best poutine in the city.  I recommend the duck poutine — very decadent.  My husband loves the beer selection, of course.
    Another place that we went to for date night was Kensington Pub in our ‘hood’.  This is a great little place to go to when it’s cold outside.  You do feel like you’re stepping into an English pub when you arrive.  I recommend the shepherds pie – very traditional and made with lamb. We often like to stick to our neighbourhood because then we don’t have to have the hassle of driving across the city.  Another local find is Brasserie Kensington.  Again my husband likes it because of the excellent beer selection (as long as he has beer he’s happy).  The saffron cream mussles are very good and you can use the pommes frittes to soak up all the delicious juices.  Yum!
  4. I live in an amazing community.  We took Vanessa trick or treating across the street from our condo on Halloween.  There were so many
    Bat girl in the wagon looking for treats!

    Bat girl in the wagon looking for treats!

    kids around the neighbourhood which is very cool to see.  There were people sitting outside of their doors drinking wine around fire pits welcoming everyone that came by for treats.  We were even offered mulberry wine!  (Parents need treats too!)  The neighours are very friendly and inviting during Halloween.  There was a great article I found online about Canada’s greatest neighbourhoods and Kensington was listed as one of them.  No surprise, really.

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