Writing this post takes me back... back to Bistrot Bistro (I can never remember whether the first or second word ends with 't'). Mochi ordered French onion soup on this occasion, thus taking my French onion soup maidenhead. We were both surprised with the flavor. Rather than creamy and mild, it was winey, sharp and sour. Mochi hated it but in time, I found myself craving more.
I started doing research on how to make French onion soup. I expected it to be simple and I wasn't disappointed. Mostly, it was just a matter of caramelizing some onion, ading stock, flour, cheese and wine (I noticed recipes with red and white). Some recipes called for the use of herbs. Some added splashes of balsamic vinegar. Most had a crispy carb accompaniment in the form of toasted baguette or puff pastry topping.
My my version, I mostly followed this recipe but I mixed and matched to my liking. The original recipe doesn't say how many it serves but I halved it and still had enough for 6 (maybe my servings are too small?) so be cautious if you don't want to end up with a month's worth of soup in the form of left overs. The recipe I'm posting has the halved quantities.
French Onion Soup
- 30g butter, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 (300g) brown onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 25g (2 tbsp) plain flour
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2L water (I used beef stock with a bit of water)
- 1 glass white wine
- splash of red wine vinegar
- 50g gruyere cheese, 1/2 cubed and 1/2 grated (I used jarlsberg)
- 1 baguette, in slices each 1.5cm thick
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- parsley to garnish
1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan, add onion then cook for 25 minutes until the onion is deep golden brown and beginning to caramelize. Stir from time to time.2. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Add water (or stock) and wine. Add the bay leaves and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
4. Add cubes of cheese, stir and bring to the boil.5. Cover and simmer for 20- 25 minutes. Add brown sugar and a splash of red wine vinegar. Check the seasoning.
6. Slice the baguette, sprinkle with the remaining cheese.7. Grill until the cheese is melted.8. Put the soup in a serving bowl and serve with the toasted baguette on top. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.
The soup was rather boring until I added the sugar and red wine vinegar (my own additions, not on the original recipe). I can't speak for authenticity but taste-wise, the sweet and tangy really picked things up.
At one point the soup looked like dishwater but this gradually improved (it helps to skim the top). I also think I added too much cheese to my soup because it was slightly gluggy. Other than that, it was a robust and flavorsome soup. It really needed the crunch of the baguette to go with it because there isn't enough textural variety otherwise.
I preferred the soup with plain buttered and toasted baguette rather than the cheesy baguette.