Thursday, 23 February 2012

Classic French Onion Soup

For some reason I have a bit of a thing for French food. It's the food that never fails to put a smile on my face; partly because of the flavours but also because it's a great excuse to showcase local, British ingredients in different ways. It's a funny time of year, I feel it's almost time to crack out a salad but at the same time I still want comfort and warmth. What better than the absolute classic French onion soup?
There's nothing quite like it, it wraps you up from the inside out but at the same time remains quite clean and almost guilt free. Considering it's basically boiled onions in beef stock, which doesn't have quite the same ring to it, it delivers on so many levels. There's sweetness, depth and texture with every mouthful. There are so many different ways of making French onion soup/onion soup and after looking at several versions I was able to ascertain the most important ingredients are: onions, beef stock, alcohol and Gruyère. I went into soup making with full gusto.
I used five very different sized onions for two people's worth of soup but when I make it again I think I'll add a few more. It's always a surprise how much the onions cook down. Slice the onions and add them to a pan with a little butter on a medium heat. All French onion soups I've ever had are devilishly dark and the onions are well and truly brown. Stir the onions occasionally until they go brown and caramelised.
When they are sufficiently brown, add a glass of your chosen tipple (mine was white wine) and then some beef stock. Mine came in a pot of 500ml so that's what went in. Leave this to simmer on a low heat until reduced and then check the seasoning. I found it needed a fair bit of salt and pepper and the onions were so sweet I didn't need to add any sugar.
While the soup cooks, make the extra large croutons. The reason mine were so gargantuan was that I could only get hold of a white bloomer as opposed to a baguette. Nonetheless it made excellent cheese on toast. Slice your bloomer/baguette/equivalent and toast on both sides. Grate some Gruyère, put on top of the toast and grill until the cheese melts. 
Ladle the soup into bowls and put the toast on top. The toast acts like a sponge soaking up all the deep, meaty liquid in the soup and becomes surprisingly easy to cut with only a spoon. I would advise at least two cheesy toasts per person to allow for ultimate soakage. The Gruyère adds a wonderful tang and the bread makes this remarkably filling.
Part of the reason I enjoy eating this soup so much is the surprise piece of onion that always seems attached to the spoon until it reaches your mouth, at which point it detaches itself from the spoon and reattaches itself to your chin. Despite the fact you might spend the rest of the evening with a small piece of the allium family stuck on your face this soup is an ultimate classic and well worth a try.

20 comments:

  1. beautiful soup! sounds delicious!

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  2. Although our thermometr shows +22C (75F), and all I want is something cold, this soup looks yummy. I need to make it on a colder day, haven't had one in a long time. Thanks for the post!

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  3. Well here in France we could eat this at any time of year. Love it and adore your description. I can imagine a bloomer is even better than a baguette and even if you have that onion stuck to your chin, it adds to the entertainment - like the gruyere stuck to the spoon. Delicious!

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  4. wow..super delicious...looks inviting..;)
    btw ajwain seeds ( carom or omam ) are small in size, have strong flavor & acts as good appetizer with more health benefits..
    hope you can giv a try & enjoy..!
    Tasty Appetite

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  5. I actually like French Onion Soup but ever tried to make it before. Yours looks delish!

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  6. Now this is a real classic! I'm craving for one now!

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  7. Gorgeous! There's a reason this is a classic! :) looks delicious.

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  8. Very nice and I simply adore onion soup. Just that I have to replace the beef stock with veg stock and one or two of ingredients you have added may not be available over here.

    Never mine, I can the idea of your recipe, modify and make one at home, yum to this soup.

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  9. S Jones, Yorkshire24 February 2012 14:46

    How about that? I just shopped today for the ingredients for making French Onion Soup this week! Didn't get gruyere however will do so. Did you use red onions, spanish sweet onions or regular strong onions? Recipes vary like you say. Loved the description, especially the bit of hot onion that sticks to your chin and hurts yet we still love it and eat this soup!

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  10. I love French Onion Soup! What a great recipe you have here, I will definitely try it soon!

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  11. Like Lyn, I love this soup and have never made it. Going to try your recipe very soon, but without the onion on my chin all night - made me smile

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  12. I have never made this soup before. I do fancy the idea of trying it so here is my opportunity. Yours looks ever so delicious.
    Have a great weekend!

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  13. I absolutely love french onion soup, but have never made it from scratch. This looks delicious! I love the idea of gruyere instead of swiss!

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  14. Thanks for the comments - hope you give it a try.
    S Jones, I used normal white onions, they weren't the huge ones you can get that are quite strong, they were smaller and sweeter. Hope you enjoy making it, you could use Comte cheese if you wanted.

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  15. Beautiful, simple flavours in this, especially Gruyère cheese. This looks gorgeous. And I love all your pics but especially the bowl of onions, the colours look so warm.

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  16. I agree that this is a great classic. At its best when homemade for sure - yours sounds just great. I was once offered a bowl for breakfast ... but that's another story.

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  17. Ahh..wow..this looks tasty & adorable..;)

    Tasty Appetite

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  18. Im going to have to make this soon!

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  19. Great! This is one of my favourite soups - even if the crouton is often difficult to eat with any sense of decorum.

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  20. Mmm, love this soup! Yours look delicious!

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