Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Who doesn't love french onions?

Or rather, the classic dish French Onion Soup. As anyone whose ever attempted to make the deeply flavorful soup can tell you, directions are usually filled with words like "time consuming", "slow caramelization", or "2 hours of simmering". Yes, caramelization of the onions is KEY here, but I speed it up a bit and am eating delicious soup in about 50 minutes rather than 2 hours. I use two different types of stock in this, beef for the deep rich base we all know and love in french onion soup, and chicken for that lighter and salty note. Please excuse the terrible cell phone photo. It was a late night craving. Oh, and you're welcome in advance for the soup.

What you need:
3 large spanish onions sliced
3 tablespoons salted butter
3 large crushed garlic cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 very large thyme sprigs tied together with butchers twine
Dash of crushed red pepper
3 cups good quality (preferably homemade) beef stock
1 cup of the same quality chicken stock
About 1/4 cup cognac
Italian bread or some day-old baguette from dinner the night before, cubed
Gruyere or much less expensive swiss cheese, shredded (hey, we're on a budget here)

Here we go:
Heat the butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet and melt. Add in the sliced onions and turn the heat to medium low, here's where we need to pay the most attention because we don't want to burn the onions. Stir continuously until the onions start to soften and color, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and red pepper.
Saute all together for about another 5-10 minutes or until the onions are nice and brown. Add the stocks. Ready? Leave it alone! Let it simmer together for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how impatient you are. Stir in the cognac 5 minutes before
the end of the cooking time.
Serve up the soup in oven safe bowls, top with the bread and cheese and throw under the broiler until they become brown and bubbly. Time varies on the broiler, mine takes about 3 minutes.

I can't really think of another soup I want more on a cold winter day. Well to be honest, any day. Leftovers just gain in flavor, so I make double batches to whip out for a quick lunch or dinner.
Onion soup in about 50 minutes? Sign me up.