Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Pyrate's Soupe L'Ognion (French Onion Soup)

Yesterday the Pyrate made the BEST FRENCH ONION SOUP I HAVE EVER HAD!  I will never crave it again from elsewhere... not even that French bistro at the Grove promenade.  If you are a fan of French Onion Soup, you will fall in love all over again when you learn to make it at home from scratch.  It is truly a beautiful thing.
You'll need oven proof dishes, either porcelain, ceramic or stoneware individual crocks, ramekins, or bowls.  We used porcelain ramekins, which worked fine except they are a pain to get clean again... you have to soak them in baking soda and hot water overnight to get the baked-on brown stains off.  The picture below is not mine.  Just wanted to give you something to look at.  We forgot to take pics before we ate ours!  Ha!  Sorry!

This recipe was inspired by one we saw Alton Brown (the food scientist dude) make on the Food Network with some slight alterations because his ended up with not enough onions and even the entire recipe was a bit scant to truly feed 6 people like he said it would.  

7 large sweet onions (red or sweet maui or a combination of both as we did for ours)
4 tbsps butter
sea salt
1 cups of white wine (we used a chardonnay)
32 oz of beef broth (or vegetable if you prefer)
12 oz of chicken broth (or more vegetable if you prefer)
2 cups of apple cider
1 bouquet garni (thyme sprig, bay leaf, and parsley sprig tied together with kitchen twine)
1 loaf of country style bread
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 cups of grated Gruyere

Cut onions in half then thinly cut into half-moon slices, mix together if using two kinds.  
Melt the butter in the bottom of a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium low heat. 
Spread a layer of onions over melted butter and sprinkle layer with a pinch of salt.
Repeat layering onions and sprinkling with a pinch of salt til all onions are layered in the pot.  Do not stir.
Leave to cook down over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes then stir. 
Continue cooking and occasionally stirring til onions are carmelized to a dark mahogany and reduced to about 2 cups.  This will take about 45 min. to an hour, and don't worry if it seems it's burning.
Add the wine and cook over high heat until liquid is reduced and is syrupy. (We had a chuckle-worthy moment when we got to this part because the Pyrate imitated Julia Childs as he sloshed the wine into the pot without a measuring cup. )
Add broths, cider, and herbs, turn down fire, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Place oven rack on top notches of oven and heat your broiler.
Cut bread in rounds large enough to fit soup bowls.
Place the slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
Broil in the oven til nice and toasty, turn and repeat on the other side.
Season soup mixture with salt, pepper.
Add a splash of cognac. We used about 1/4 cup.
Remove herbs and ladle soup into crocks leaving one inch from the top.
Place bread round on top of soup and top with grated cheese.
Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden.
Be sure to watch it so that it doesn't burn.

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