French onion soup can’t come from a packet, it cannot be had by a chemical laden powder. It’s essence is steeped with time and a wack load of onions which all melt down to practically nothing. There’s a reason why it’s french, the slow caramelization process is one which only the french could invent. Tried and true this recipe is one that my Grandmother taught me when I was about 10. It’s more of a technique than it is a recipe really. You can’t just fry up some onions and add stock, the depth of flavour comes from a long and slow all day melt down of the onions, perfect for a sunday afternoon or a start in the morning while the grass still clings to its frosty sleeve. Feel like you need a good cry but you just can’t let it out? French onion soup to the rescue, drown your sorrows while twelve onions force the raw emotion out of you, and then just let it melt away, allow the release just like the onions. You’ll see the volume of your onions wilt to 1/4 of their original fullness, what a great example they set.
Tomorrow morning we embark on a journey of epic proportions. A visit to the frozen wasteland of soviet like architecture, dear old Edmonton. While I’m happy to no longer live there, I adore my family and cannot wait to spend time with them. This year we’re having a solstice celebration before my brother and his fiancee depart for her families place. It’s baby Mavs first road trip so my fingers are crossed that he doesn’t learn how to unbuckle himself, as he has adeptly shown in the past. My outstanding procrastination skills have brought me here to this moment where its more important to write about classic french onion soup than it is to pack and get ready. I don’t care, I work best under pressure anyway.
- ⅓ C butter or ghee
- 12 onions, thickly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 1½ C dry red wine
- 1 tsp sea salt
- generous amounts of fresh cracked pepper
- 8 C beef stock
- 1 baguette sliced and toasted (I used spelt sourdough) (optional)
- ½ C grated gruyere cheese
- ½ C grated parmesan cheese
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter or ghee and add the onions,thyme and bay leaf. Stir and allow them to cook down for at least 3 hours, stirring every so often. Near the end give them a colour boost by amping up the heat for a few minutes and stirring continually.
- With the heat on high, add the red wine and allow the alcohol to evaporate, cooking on high for about 2 minutes.
- Add the beef stock, salt and pepper to taste and let it all come to a simmer.
- Ladle to hot soup into 4 oven proof bowls, set oven to broil.
- Top each bowl with a few pieces of toasted baguette and a generous amout of cheese. Place bowls on a baking tray in case of spillage and bake under the broiler until golden brown.