11/01/2009

French Onion Soup


This was my first ever attempt making French Onion Soup, the October challenge at Recipes to Rival.  It was a bit more time consuming and involved than I would ordinarily allow for a meal, but those savory aromas coming from the kitchen, first with simmering beef stock, and then my pot full of caramelizing onions, were a payoff, even before we got to the tasting part, three days later.  Day one making the beef stock from scratch; day two caramelizing onions, which for some reason took 8, instead of 5 hours, for me to get to the point described as a "rich, deep brown", unfortunately not in time for dinner that evening.  So, day three we ate the finished soup.  I now appreciate fully having it served up to me in a restaurant, by a smiling, sweat free waiter. 

First, in making the stock I skipped the step where you put a half onion, cut side down in a hot skillet and let it char black for 30 minutes.  Just couldn't see blackening my nice Le Creuset pot.  Instead I put it in the roasting pan after the bones were done, removing most of the fat first.  That worked very nicely.  Also, I used some of that reserved fat to coat the rest of the vegetables for roasting, in the same pan.  Not working in a commercial kitchen with lots of sous chefs helping, it's good to save on pans and washing up.

As I had mentioned, wanting to keep to the low temperature stressed in the recipe, this large (over 2 gallon) pot full of onions took me from 1:00 in the afternoon until 9 p.m. to reach the deeply caramelized state.  Next time, if there ever is one, I'd speed this process up a wee tad.  I had a question with the amount of onions called for as well.  It gives you about three times what is needed for the soup.  I'm not complaining here, friends, they'll be dandy in Pommes de Terre Boulangère, a recipe I noticed yesterday at The Wednesday Chef.  Basically, crispy fried potatoes with caramelized onions.  Luisa mentioned that she would have doubled or tripled the recipe if she'd known how good they'd be.  Well, here we are with a triple portion.  I'm going to make those potatoes  with eggs for breakfast tomorrow.

So, now on day three, all the elements are present and accounted for, combined in my big Dutch Oven pot, simmered for an hour, and then into individual, oven-proof?  soup bowls.  Topped with croutons and then cheese (I used Gruyere for the extra zap of flavor) and put them under the broiler for a few minutes.  I was a bit nervous at this step, worrying about the bowls cracking, things boiling over, and ended up not filling them as high as recommended. I think you just have to resign yourself to a mess, and go with the overflow.
Served with extra bread and a salad of arugula, fresh tomatoes and steamed green beans, it was very filling and the flavors were wonderful.  The rest (and I'm glad there is quite a bit) should be even better after melding together for another day or two.  Check out the recipe for a really delicious classic soup, hosted by Sara this month at Recipes to Rival.  For everyone's take on it, visit the blogroll.
PS - or The Morning After French Onion Soup
What can be done with some of those brilliant, sweet caramalized onions left over?  Lacking the potatoes mentioned above, I layered the onions, after they were nice and hot in the bottom of my skillet, and  to which I had added a bit more of that Sherry Vinegar, with eggs and topped it all off with thin slices of beautiful Serrano Ham.

Next on the agenda of things to do with them: French Onion Pizza - which you have to admit has almost everything the soup does: caramelized onions, cheese, bread.  Looking forward to it.

6 comments:

lakegirl said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Your onion soup looks wonderful! I need to invest in some soup crocks.

Your blog is so interesting. I will enjoy reading. I love cooking and gardening too!

Claudia said...

Thanks, I need those crocks too. I'm still leery of heating the rest of my soup in those bowls.

sara said...

The soup looks fantastic. I actually got to finally use my onion soup pots that I bought long ago for this :)
thanks for cooking this month's challenge with me.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Oh..my quick 20 minute version without beef does nicely....but...this looks wonderful!

Angry Asian said...

yes, the time it took to complete this challenge! i wonder if i'll ever undertake it again... but your version looks wonderful and despite the time it took to do this, the taste did make it worth it. :)

Claudia said...

Yes, I was glad for the experience, but hink I'll just enjoy it all the more when eating out, knowing what goes into a good version.