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.

Ingredients

  •  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.

    IMG_2783

    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!

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