Fancy Soup

February 28, 2012

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to cook one new recipe every week. I haven’t necessarily posted lots of this here, because, frankly, reading about someone making fish sticks just isn’t that interesting (I didn’t say it had to be a fancy or exciting recipe, just something I’d never made before). However, I did get a little fancier a couple of weeks ago and made french onion soup. Now soup is generally just not that interesting of a food to talk about. You stick some stuff in a pot, usually with some broth, and let it cook for awhile. French onion soup, however, is like a alchemical transformation. Also, it’s something that had never occurred to me to make at home-it just seems like a restaurant thing, with cute oven-proof ceramic soup bowls. To tackle this challenge, I more or less used Alton Brown’s recipe, available on the Food Network website here.

To start with, you need lots of onions. The recipe says 5 onions, but I modified this recipe slightly based on comments from the website. So we had 5 lbs of onions, which was about 6-7, I think. You slice the onions into thin rings, which is the most labor-intensive part of the whole process, and start to brown them in a little butter. 5 lbs of onions is a lot. It looks like this:

This is the first time I thought maybe I had read a number wrong. This looks like a lot of onions. But you just cook them, and cook them, and cook them. And then you get this:

After that you keep cooking the onions down until they’re brown and caramelized. You then add in some wine, broth and some herbs in a bouquet garni. You’ll see that I didn’t actually have whole stems of herbs or cheesecloth for a traditional bouquet garni, so I just stuffed some herbs in a metal tea ball and winged it.


While all that is going on, you make some toast. Rachel cut our toast into fancy rounds, but as long as it  fits into your bowl it’s fine.


When your soup is done, you put the toasts in the soup, crunchy side down.


Top it with cheese (we used gruyere) and stick it under the broiler for a few seconds. It’s important to make sure that your bowls are heat-proof. If not, they can explode when you heat them under the broiler.



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