French Onion Soup with Beer Bagel Crouton

2 Nov

My house smelled frickin’ amazing last weekend when I made this.  I made the beef stock on the same day – which happened to be a cold, rainy, dreary fall day that was absolutely perfect for simmering stock and standing over the stove caramelizing onions.  I used a couple of oxtail bones and a stewing bone, which added a ton of flavor and body.  The homemade beef stock was rich and unctuous, balanced perfectly by the sweet, slowly caramelized onions, pungent cheese, and subtle beer flavor in the bagel.  In fact, the beer bagel is what really takes this over the top in deliciousness, adding just enough of a small spin on a classic to make this dish truly exciting.  It was the absolutely perfect meal for a gloomy fall evening – totally warm you from the inside out comfort food.

French Onion Soup with Beer Bagel Crouton

French Onion Soup:

Adapted slightly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

1 1/2 lb. or about 5 cups of yellow onion, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2″ pieces lengthwise

2 tbs. butter

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. sugar

3 tbs. all purpose flour

2 quarts homemade beef stock

1/2 cup dry vermouth

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tbs. cognac, optional

2 beer bagels (see below), halved and toasted

1 cup gruyere, finely grated

1 cup Swiss cheese, finely grated

In a medium Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat.  Add onions and stir to coat with the fat.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Uncover, raise the heat to moderate, and add salt and sugar.  Cook for forty minutes or longer, until onions have turned an even, deep golden brown.  It is important to stir the onions every 2 minutes or so, scraping up any brown bits (hopefully, not burned bits) from the bottom of the Dutch oven with a wooden spoon.  Keep a very close eye on the onions, because if they burn, you have to start over.

Toward the end of the cooking process, bring beef stock to a rolling boil.

Stirring constantly, sprinkle in the flour and stir for three minutes.

Turn off the heat under the Dutch oven.  Add the boiling liquid while stirring.  Add the wine.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Simmer, partially covered, for at least 40 minutes, skimming occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Stir in cognac, if using (I didn’t).

Preheat broiler.

Ladle into four oven proof bowls.

Float one half of a bagel in each bowl.  Top with a small handful of each type of cheese.  Transfer to broiler and broil 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Beer Bagels:

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Note: Clearly, this makes far more bagels than you need for the soup.  They are excellent in any way in which you would normally eat a bagel.

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 (.25) oz. packages active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm beer (we used an American pale ale brewed by my favorite home brewer, Zak)

4 tbs. white sugar, divided

1 tbs. salt

Preheat oven to 375º.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast.  Mix beer, 3 tbs. sugar, and salt together and add to the dry ingredients.  Beat with a hand mixer for about half a minute at low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean.  Beat at a higher speed for about three minutes.  By hand, mix in enough flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn out onto a lightly flour surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.  Cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Cut into 12 portions, shape into smooth balls.  Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape.  Cover, and let rise for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, start a large pot of water boiling.  Add remaining tbs. of sugar.  Reduce to simmering.

Put 4-5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once.  Drain them.  Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.

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