Tuesday, January 22, 2013

French Onion Soup--to Warm up

I think we all got deceived by the warm days and colorful summer dresses displayed in store windows. Unfortunately, winter is back, with a vengeance. And although it is very sunny in DC, it is also freezing and windy.

So what would be a better idea to warm up than a bowl of soup? And, when I think about comfort, a bowl of French onion soup that I was often served in Alpine ski resorts comes to my mind.

It is very easy dish but, believe it or not, although I ate onion soup many times, I made it only twice myself many years ago.

So far, each time I made onion soup I used my old, French, absolutely plain and simple recipe based on onion and a beef consommé or broth. Today I used the other version I had in my notebook which also calls for a little bit of sugar, balsamic vinegar and thyme. When after about half an hour the soup was ready, there would be nothing I could enjoy more. Aromatic, rich, and hot it was the most comforting lunch on a freezing day like today.

French Onion Soup
(Serves 4-6)

4 large onions, peeled and finely sliced,
32 oz (2 lb) good quality beef broth,
3 tbsp butter,
1 tbsp olive oil,
1 garlic clove,
1 tbsp sugar,
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar,
1 tbsp flour,
baguette (about 8 slices),
1/3 cup grated Gruyère or Parmesan cheese,
2 branches of thyme,
one bay leaf,
extra tbsp of butter,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan and add onion. Fry first at high heat for a few minutes, than turn the heat down and fry it for about 20 minutes, until it turns dark-gold/brown. The onion needs to be well brown (caramelized) as this gives the whole taste to the soup.

2. Add sugar and vinegar to the already brown onion and cook for two minutes.
3. Sprinkle with flour, mix and add beef broth, thyme and bay leaf.Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Spread each slice of baguette with butter and grill them in the oven until they are gold. Place the cheese on top of each slice and let it melt and bubble.
5. Remove bay leave and thyme from the soup. Divide the soup among serving bowl and top with grilled baguette slices. Serve hot.