We just got back from a week long cruise to the Bahamas. We (all of us – Jon and myself, as well as the boys, and my mom and dad!) left out of Norfolk, VA last Sunday, and had a great trip. We stayed at the gorgeous Atlantis Resort in Nassau overnight – then got back on the ship and went onto Freeport the next day. It’s unbelievably gorgeous down there. I mean, I live at the beach – but it’s just a world apart. We went snorkeling, ate a fresh grouper sandwich right on the beach – washing it down with a local beer. Everyone had a great time!
On the night that we weren’t onboard the ship, one of the starter course selections was French Onion soup. I was bummed that I was missing it – but with this view, I couldn’t really cry into my pillow.
I just resolved to make it for dinner once we got back (food bloggers – forever planning menus!). Which, was a good call. It’s definitely chillier here since our return, and the soup really hit the spot. Plus, aside from caramelizing the onions – it takes care of itself, and does it’s own thing.
I’ve always used Julia Child’s recipe. I mean, why wouldn’t you? She is the one who introduced the dish to Americans. I love addition of white wine, just gives it a lovely tanginess in the background. Vermouth can also be used, if you don’t feel like uncorking a whole bottle. But again, why wouldn’t you? I made some beef broth the day before using some bones I had in the freezer, but Campbell’s makes a really great canned beef broth that I’ll use if I don’t have homemade. The cognac is optional, but I think it really does bring something to the party. I just ladled out some for the boys before I added it. No biggie. This is one of the most comforting and flavorful soups out there, and it’s perfect for any occasion. A simple dinner at home, or as a starter in a fancy dining room on a cruise ship – everyone always loves it!
French Onion Soup
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar (to help caramelize the onions)
3 Tablespoons flour
8 cups beef stock, at a boil
1 cup dry white wine
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons cognac (optional)
6-8 slices of toasted French bread rounds
1 cups grated Gruyere cheese
Melt the butter and oil over low heat in a heavy soup pot. Stir in the onions, cover, and sweat until they are tender; this will take about 15 to 25 minutes. Remove the cover, increase heat to medium, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook 30-40 minutes, stirring often, until the onions have turned an even, very deep, golden brown. Sprinkle in the flour; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes.
Off the heat, whisk in the boiling stock. Add the wine and rosemary. Season to taste. Place the pot back on the heat, bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer, partially covered, for 40-60 minutes or more, skim foam from surface as it appears. Taste and correct seasonings. At this point you may set it aside, uncovered, until you are ready to serve.
When ready to serve, with the soup at a simmer, stir in the cognac. Turn on oven broiler.
Ladle soup into individual oven-proof bowls. Place a piece of toasted bread on top of sou sprinkle generously with grated cheese and place under broiler until melted and bubbly.
Source: adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child