Friday, January 18, 2013

French onion soup

For a delicious and flavorful dinner, try French onion soup. It's very easy to make. It takes a little time, only because you have to cook the onions down, but it doesn't require much babysitting. 

Ours is a non-alcoholic version. I studied several recipes, then made the dish twice, making a few alterations to see if they made a difference in our level of enjoyment. Our conclusion is that this soup is a winner no matter what. Adjust ingredients -- you'll see the options below -- according to what you have on hand.


2-3 lbs. onions, sliced up to 1/4 inch thick*
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3 ounces apple juice or orange juice
8 c. beef broth**
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Big cheesy croutons:

Sliced french bread
Garlic powder
Dried basil
Shredded Swiss cheese

In large pot, over medium-low heat, melt butter with olive oil, then toss with onions. Cover pot and let onions steep for 15 minutes to soften and release juices. No need to check on them. Stir in salt and sugar, increase heat to medium-high, and let onions cook uncovered, stirring periodically, for about 30 to 40 minutes. Onions will reduce down to about one-third their original volume. Toward the end you'll need to stir quite frequently.

Add flour and cook for a minute, then deglaze pan with cider vinegar and juice. Add broth and Worcestershire. Bring to boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. I needed an extra 1/4 teaspoon salt and a sprinkle of pepper.

Meanwhile, spread butter on french bread. Sprinkle with garlic powder and dried basil. Toast under broiler until dried and crispy. (Toast both sides, even though one side has nothing on it.) Remove from oven, sprinkle with Swiss cheese, then toast again to melt cheese. Dip into soup.

*I used white onions one time and yellow onions the other. Both were great. The first time, I used 2 pounds, and the second time, I used 4 pounds. Our family preferred something closer to the 2-pound mark. My onions were huge -- about the size of a small baby's head -- and each weighed about a pound.

**The first time, I used 5 cups beef broth and 3 cups chicken broth, because that was all I had. The second time, I used all beef broth. We were equally happy both ways. I would just suggest that the majority be beef broth.

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