I recognize that spring is upon us and that this soup recipe is therefore about a month late, but it’s still too good not to share.
Though it’s definitely the wrong season, there’s still a chance you can take advantage of this recipe on rainy days. However, if it’s anything like the past two springs, there will be lots of rainy days with occasional bursts of sunlight. Either way, we’re not out of soup season yet.
Toward the middle of winter break when I was still on campus, I realized that I had two things: a brand new cast-iron Dutch oven and a lot of leftover onions from the last co-op delivery (it’s a good thing onions don’t go bad quickly). I knew I had to break in my pretty pot, and that I should do it in style. I was feeling economical and a bit lazy (it was cold out there), so I decided I probably shouldn’t go find a whole pork shoulder to braise. Instead, I went for what we had readily available.
French onion soup has perhaps one of the most distinctive and delicious smells in the culinary world. Its unique scent turns heads, and it was no surprise when one of my housemates, who walked in as I was cooking, chose to stand over my shoulder during the entire soup preparation so he could keep inhaling its aroma.
This recipe is easy to make and does not require many ingredients. Unfortunately, a couple of the ingredients do require being over the age of 21 to obtain, but you could probably just substitute or ignore them as needed. Another option would be going for the Weshop “cooking wine.” This recipe could also be made Passover-friendly by substituting matzo meal in place of flour and by omitting the cheese.
French Onion Soup
(Adapted slightly from smittenkitchen.com, who adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”)
1. Thinly slice onions. Try not to cry.
2. Melt the butter and oil together at the bottom of a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over low to medium heat. Add onions and toss with melted butter and oil until every slice of onion is coated. Turn heat to very low (as low as your stove can get) and cover the pot. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
3. Raise heat slightly and stir in salt and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes until fully caramelized. Onions should appear golden in color. Feel free to eat one or two with goat cheese on a cracker, but don’t go too crazy.
4. Stir in flour and continue to cook while stirring for about 3 minutes. Add wine, pour yourself a glass, then gradually add in stock, stirring throughout.
5. Add in salt and pepper and allow the mixture to simmer, partially covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.
6. If you like cheese and the façade of eating in a French restaurant, grate a bit of fresh onion and some cheese (consider Swiss or Gruyère) onto soup in an oven-proof bowl and broil for about 15 minutes.
4 large onions
3 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar (helps the onions brown)
3 tbsp. flour
8 cups beef or mushroom stock
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp. brandy (optional)