A-Whole-Lotta-Flavor! French Onion Soup

I hate onions. Always have. Ever since I was a kid. I still pick onions out of my food as an adult. It drives my hubby crazy. It drives my mom crazy. Get used to it, people. I hate onions. Raw onions gross me out. I hate the slimy texture. I hate the bitter bite. The taste makes me cringe. Big time.

However, I have learned to cook with onions and appreciate the flavor they add to food. I have learned to tolerate them as long as they are finely chopped up and cooked to mush.

So if I have this intense hatred of onions, then why am I posting a recipe for French Onion Soup?

Because I love my hubby, I love to cook, and he loves French Onion Soup. Simple.

Anyway, I get a weekly e-newsletter from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, and they have these video recipes. That’s where I found this one.

Until this point, I had bypassed all the French Onion Soup recipes I had seen on people’s websites. Onions. Yuck. But this one cooks the onions to death, creating tons of flavor. And ATK’s recipes have never done me wrong. They are spot on. Delicious.

So, I decided to give this one a try.

Mind you, it takes hours upon hours. Lots of cooking down those onions to deepen the flavor. Like 4 hours. Yes, four. Lots of time.

And every minute is worth it, according to hubby.

Four pounds of onion, sliced pole to pole

And guess what? Even I think this soup is worth the work…despite the fact that it is made up primarily of onions! Four pounds to be exact. Yes, you read that correctly: four whoppin’ pounds!

And yes, you also read correctly that I think this soup is worth the work. I actually found the courage to taste this one despite my abhorrence for onions.

And it was okay.

More than okay.

Rich in flavor. Oniony but not with that bitter taste or slimy texture. Sweet instead. Not overly sweet but the carmelized onions release sugars and alter the horridness of the original taste of the onion, making it bearable.

Plus, add the bread that soaks up the broth yet retains crunchiness around the edges. And add the sharp bite of Gruyère cheese. And you actually have a delish concoction.

And I actually ate an entire bowl full of soup. Go figure!

And now that I learned I can tolerate the carmelized onions, that opens me up to a few recipes I’ve avoided like the plague until now. Yay!

 

thyme & bay leaf bouquet

 

French Onion Soup

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 lbs. yellow onion
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 water, divided into 1/4 cup portions
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • bouquet fresh thyme and one bay leaf (tie together some thyme sprigs and bay leaf)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice onions pole to pole into 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray. Add 3 tbsp. butter and sliced onions, then sprinkle 1 tsp. salt over the onions (this helps release juice from onions). Place lid on pot and put in 400 degree F oven for one hour, until onions begin to wilt down.
  3. Remove pot from oven; stir onions. Return to oven again but crack lid slightly; leave in oven for 1 1/2 hours more, but stir after one hour. The onions should start darkening and developing fond, the golden brown bits from the carmelizing of the sugars in the food.
  4. Remove pot from oven and continue cooking over medium-high heat on stove for 20 minutes in order to continue creating golden brown fond (the more fond the more flavorful the soup). Lower heat if onions are getting too dark (you want a dark golden crust on bottom of pan–not black but brown).
  5. Now it’s time for deglazing (removing and dissolving the carmelized bits of fond). Add 1/4 cup water to pot & mix, scraping bottom, until fond is lifted up. Continue to cook over heat for 6-8 minutes, until more fond develops. Then repeat the deglazing process followed by creating more fond. Do this for 3 sets of deglazing & creating fond.
  6. For the fourth round of deglazing and browning, use 1/4 cup sherry instead of water and brown onions again until alcohol evaporates, about 5 minutes.
  7. Now add 4 cups chicken broth + 2 cups beef broth + 2 cups water to pot + 1/2 tsp. salt + bouquet fresh thyme and one bay leaf, tied together; simmer 30 minutes. (Too much thyme will overpower the soup, so go easy on the thyme bouquet.)
  8. Remove thyme/bay leaf; add bit more salt and some pepper, to taste.
  9. While soup is simmering, toast 3/4-inch crosswise slices of baguette at 400 degrees F for about 6-10 minutes, turning halfway through baking time (keep your eye on them so they don’t burn).
  10. Scoop soup into bowls; float a couple slices of toasted bread atop each bowl of soup.
  11. Garnish with 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese on top for each bowl; place into oven under broiler until cheese melts and browns a bit. Keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Yields: 6 bowls soup

Source: America’s Test Kitchen e-newsletter video (hopefully the video will still show; sometimes their videos only work for an allotted time period)

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