Pretty much every time I go to a restaurant and they have French Onion soup on the menu – I order it. I have been on a quest for years to find the best FOS.
I’ve had some really good soups – the best in Montreal and Ottawa, but there was always a little something missing from them. I didn’t know what it was, but it needed a bit more.
Yesterday I made (if I say so myself) the best French Onion Soup ever! Of course I know how to appeal to my tastes more than anyone.
The recipe was a combination of recipes, I used Thomas Keller’s recipe as a base and then went from there.
Thomas Keller’s French Onion Soup from the Bouchon Cookbook.
- 8lbs yellow onions
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1½ tsp all-purpose flour
- 3 qts beef stock
- freshly ground pepper
- sherry wine vinegar
- cheese cloth
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 12 black peppercorns
- 1 baguette
- extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- 6-12 thick slices of aged Comte
Sachet: Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 7 inches square. Place the bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme in the center and tie with kitchen twine.
Step 1: Slice the onions lengthwise into ¼ inch pieces. Melt the butter in a large heavy stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes while adjusting the heat to keep mixture bubbling gently. Continue for 1 hour or until the onions have wilted and released a lot of liquid.
Step 2: Turn up the heat slightly to reduce the liquid and continue to cook slowly, stirring the onions every 15 minutes for 4 more hours until the onions are caramelized throughout and a deep rich brown.
Step 3: Remove from the heat and retain 1½ cups of the onions for the soup. Transfer the caramelized onions to a 5qt pot. Sift in the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 4: Add the beef stock and sachet, bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour, until the liquid is reduced to 2½ quarts. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a few drops of vinegar. Remove from heat.
Croutons: Preheat the broiler. Cut twelve 3/8-in-thick slices from the baguette and place on a baking sheet. Brush the bread lightly on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place under the broiler and toast the first side until golden brown, then turn and brown the second side. Set aside and leave the broiler on.
Step 5: Return the soup to a simmer. Place 6 flameproof soup tureens with about 1 ½ cups capacity on a baking sheet to catch any spills. Add the hot soup to the tureens, filling them to within ½ in of the tops. Top each serving with 2 croutons and lay the slices of cheese over the croutons so that the cheese overlaps the edges of the tureens by about ½ in. Place the tureens under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese bubbles; browns and forms a thick crust.
Things I did differently.
I used a combination of chicken and beef stock. I used carton stock but intensified the flavor by cooking the stock with beef bones, celery, carrots, onions and spices.
I cooked it for as long as I cooked the onions (over 3 hours) I also added a cup of red wine to the stock.
I did not cook my onions for five hours. I cooked them for just over three. I didn’t have an extra two hours to make caramelize the onions. Three seemed good to me.
I did not use the sherry vinegar.
I added a half cup of cognac when the stock and onions had been combined.
I used garlic toast as the crouton.
I used gruyere cheese and parmesan.
The soup bowls are from Superstore. I really like them, they were worth braving a Sunday at superstore!
I found this recipe quite easy, but time consuming. I grabbed a chair, a book, and a glass of wine, set myself in front of the stove and entertained myself while caramelizing the onions.