Tag Archives: french onion soup

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.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Soup

2 Feb

Since I made some homemade pork and beef stock a few days ago, I knew soup was going to be on the menu one day this week.  Today is the perfect day.  My class was cancelled due to the winter storm that pounded the entire Midwest the last few days.  It’s cold and wet and disgusting out.  I spent hours yesterday and today shoveling the driveway, and I wanted something comforting, warm, and delicious.  I was going to be home all day, so caramelizing and simmering wasn’t going to be a problem in the slightest.

I was going to do a classic French Onion, but then I realized I had some mushrooms I wanted to use up and didn’t have any white wine in the house, so this caramelized onion and mushroom soup is riff on a French Onion soup.  The flavors were very bold and the mushrooms lent a nice bit of meatiness to the soup.  Though my stock was made from both beef and pork, a beef stock would work quite well here, too.  The red wine imparted both a lovely, deep red/purple color and a rich wine flavor.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Soup

3 small vidalia onions, sliced 3/16″ thick

3/4 cup button mushrooms, sliced

2 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. Brummel & Brown

3-4 tsp. all natural whole wheat flour

1 cup red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbs. fresh thyme, leaves separated from stems

1 tbs. fresh rosemary, leaves separated from stems, finely chopped

10 cups homemade beef and pork stock

2 thick slices rye bread, toasted

1/4 cup baby Swiss cheese, grated

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Heat 2 tbs. of olive oil and 1 tbs. of Brummel & Brown in a medium stock pot.  Once the oil is hot and butter is melted reduce heat to medium-low and add sliced onions.  Sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt.  Stirring frequently, caramelize the onions.

The caramelized onions are absolutely essential to the successful outcome of this dish.  It takes a long time, about an hour, and there really is no way to make the process go any faster.  I’ve seen a variety of tips, including adding sugar, adding vinegar, adding this, turning the heat up here or there, but none of it works (trust me, I’ve tried pretty much every which way).  The real key is just keeping the heat on low and keeping an eye on your onions.  It’s fine to walk away, but make sure the heat is very low and you come back within a few minutes to give it a stir.  When the onions are a rich, golden brown (NOT blackened), they’re ready.

After onions have caramelized for roughly half an hour (or halfway to desired doneness), add the mushrooms and stir to combine.  Continue to caramelize onions and mushrooms.  Add flour a little bit at a time, stirring to make a roux.  Keep over low heat for 1-2 minutes to let thicken and brown slightly.  Add one cup of red wine, white wine vinegar, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, rosemary, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Simmer over medium low heat, uncovered, 10 minutes until slightly thickened and most of wine has evaporated.

Add beef and pork stock.  Keep at a low simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 1-2 hours.  The soup should reduce by about 1/3 before serving.

Preheat broiler.

Near to serving time, grate cheeses and mix together well.  Place soup into oven-safe bowls, top with bread and cheeses and broil 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.

French Onion Soup

1 Aug

I woke this morning with a sore throat, a foggy head, and a low fever.   I went back to bed for a few hours after running some errands in the morning and woke up feeling slightly better, but I knew our plans to go out for Thai food and see Patrice O’Neal at the Improv were foiled.  Zak wins free tickets more than any other human I know, and I know he was excited to see Patrice.  Instead, he decided to stay home and keep his sickie company, which was very sweet though totally unnecessary.  One thing my nap did, though, was slightly revive my appetite.  What to eat?

Homemade beef stock?  Check.  Lots and lots of Vidalia onions thanks to sale prices at Marc’s?  Check.  A variety of delicious cheeses?  Check.  An entire afternoon to caramelize and simmer?  Check!

So I decided to make some French Onion soup.  I’ve never made French Onion soup before, but a quick Google search confirmed the main ingredients, as my palate had led me to believe, were caramelized onions, beef stock, bread and cheese.  The only thing I needed was bread.  Zak is the bread man around here, so he zipped off to the store to get a boxed bread mix and some more ginger ale for me (have I mentioned how lucky I am?).   I read about a dozen recipes from all over the place and decided to just wing it.

The end result was really, really good.  It didn’t have the cloying sweetness that you sometimes get from French Onion soup, but had a delicate, smoky caramel flavor that had me licking the bowl.  I felt much better after eating a steaming bowl of this.  I have a feeling I’m going to wake up tomorrow and feel basically 100% thanks to the fortifying powers of this yummy comfort food.

French Onion Soup

Serves 3-4 (or 2 with leftovers, which are delicious!)

Soup:

3 small vidalia onions, sliced

2 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. salted butter

3 1/2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

3-4 tsp. all natural whole wheat flour

2 cups white wine, divided (I used chardonnay)

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley, divided

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, divided

1 tsp. oregano

12 cups of homemade beef stock

A few slices of cheese & herb bread (recipe Zak used follows)

1/2 cup each of Jarlsberg and Parmesan cheeses, grated

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Begin by slicing your onions into “half moons.”  Don’t be too fussed about separating the sections for the time being.  Heat 2 tbs. of olive oil and 1 tbs. of butter in a medium-sized, no-stick stock pot.  Once the oil is hot and butter is melted reduce heat to medium-low and add sliced onions.  Sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt.  Stirring frequently, caramelize the onions.

The caramelized onions are absolutely essential to the successful outcome of this dish.  It takes a long time, about an hour, and there really is no way to make the process go any faster.  I’ve seen a variety of tips, including adding sugar, adding vinegar, adding this, turning the heat up here or there, but none of it works (trust me, I’ve tried pretty much every which way).  The real key is just keeping the heat on low and keeping an eye on your onions.  It’s fine to walk away, but make sure the heat is very low and you come back within a few minutes to give it a stir.  When the onions are a rich, golden brown (NOT blackened), they’re ready.  I keep mine on the lighter end of a golden brown, because Zak isn’t a huge fan of caramelization and I don’t like to overdo it.

After caramelizing onions roughly one hour, add the garlic and sauté until light golden brown, 5-8 minutes.  Add flour a little bit at a time, stirring to make a roux.  Keep over low heat for 1-2 minutes to let thicken and brown slightly.  Add one cup of white wine, red wine vinegar and bay leaves.  Add about half of parsley, thyme, oregano and salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.  You can re-season later, so don’t add the full teaspoons until then.  Simmer over medium low heat, uncovered, 10 minutes until slightly thickened and most of wine has evaporated.

Add 8 cups of frozen beef broth.  Turn heat to medium-high and melt beef stock.  You can also used defrosted stock.  Keep at a low simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 1-2 hours.

Taste often and if necessary adjust seasonings or add more stock.  The soup should reduce by about 1/3 before serving.

Near to serving time, grate cheeses and mix together well.  Preheat broiler.  Slice bread (recipe follows) about 1/4-1/2 inch thick, and toast to a deep golden-brown.  Place soup into bowls, top with bread and cheeses and broil 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Cheese & Herb Bread

1 box Hodgson Mill European Cheese & Herb Bread Mix which requires:

  • 1 cup water, warmed in microwave but NOT hot
  • Entire package of dry bread mix from box
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • Entire included packet of yeast

1 egg, beaten with fork

1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cooking spray

In a microwave proof container, heat water about 20 seconds until warm.  Make sure the water isn’t too hot, it will kill the yeast.

Combine all ingredients through yeast in a bread machine and run the dough cycle in order to mix the dough.  Place your oven on the “warm setting.”  Take the dough out of the bread machine before it bakes.

Spray a large glass bowl with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and top with a lid or plate.  Turn the warm setting off and place the bowl with dough in the oven.  Let rise one hour.

Remove dough from oven.   Place warm setting on again.  Place on lightly floured cutting board and knead 5 minutes or so.  Spray a bread pan with cooking spray.  Place the bread in the pan and brush with egg, making sure to get some down the sides.  Sprinkle the top of the bread with the grated cheddar cheese.

Place bread in pan back in oven and turn warm setting “off.”  Rise 30 more minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Allow the bread to bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust of the bread is deep golden brown.

Let rest before slicing.

%d bloggers like this: