French onion soup. What more must one say?
Even just the mere thought of jammy onions swimming in buttery broth just brings copious amounts of exuberant joy to even the darkest of winter-loving hearts.
This is a great first soup to master. It takes love, patience and attention with minimal knife work and no raw components. All you need is a good kitchen knife, a cutting board, a deep pot, a wooden spoon and if you want to get really crazy—an oven-safe serving bowl.
It’s a food for the people and what better way is there to coax the masses into the depths of deep autumn than through a classic cross-cultural staple deriving from only a few humble ingredients?
Ingredients & Measurements | Serves four to six people.
- 5 vidalia onions (Any would work in a pinch)
- 2 red onions
- 2 sticks of butter
- 1.5 cup(s) of red cooking wine (If you’re of age, then use the real stuff).
- 1/3 cup(s) of light brown sugar
- 4 cup(s) of beef stock
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1/2 cup of chicken bone stock
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 loaf of Good Stick Bread
- Provolone cheese
- Salt (season to taste)
- Black pepper (season to taste)
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- The Super Crazy Secret Ingredient | Soy Sauce (optional)
Start by prepping your seven onions. Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the onions and set them aside.
In a large dutch oven or deep pot set over medium-high heat, melt the two sticks of butter and add a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil to the pot before dropping the heat to medium. Then add the thinly sliced onions to the pot and heavily salt.
Be mindful that while the onions are on medium heat, it will take time for them to cook down, roughly 10 minutes.
As the onions cook, stir them every two to five minutes while using a lid to contain moisture between stirs to let the onions steam.
After about 10 minutes, the onions should have reduced a little and the liquids of the onions and butter should be visually equal and at a rolling simmer. Drop to medium-low heat and add 1/3 cup of light brown sugar before continuing to cook the onions until they are soft and translucent. Be mindful to stay close and stir for a few minutes.
Once the onions are soft and translucent, drop the heat to low. Stir every five or so minutes while the onions caramelize. You can keep the lid off by this point.
It is important to not burn the onions here. Onions produce a lot of natural sugars when cooked down so keep them moving periodically to maintain from burning or browning too quickly.
If there seems to be too much liquid at this point, don’t fret, just remove some excess liquid carefully. This will take time and range depending on the stove. If you feel like you need to raise or lower your temperature accordingly, just try to maintain a simmer. Expect to be near the onions for another 20 to 30 minutes at least.
When the onions are visibly caramelized and jammy, take your 1.5 cups of red cooking wine and pour it over the onions. Turn the heat back up to about medium or medium-high and cook down for about 10 minutes or until you can’t smell any sharp alcohol hints. Maintain a periodic stir.
Then add your four cups of beef, one cup of chicken and ½ cup of bone broth. Stir gently to incorporate and then let this simmer for another 15 or 25 minutes.
This is also the time to add seasonings to taste. That would be light salt, a few cracks of black pepper and red pepper flakes if you so desire. It would be here that you could add a dash or two of the soy sauce but be very sparing. The last thing you want is for that cute date you invited over to know you’ve bastardized this elegant French classic with an insane twist (it’s our little secret).
As it simmers this is the perfect time to prep the bread and cheese! Set the oven to broil and then grab your loaf of Italian or French bread (Don’t skimp here, go to the bakery section and do it right). Slice the bread into rounds that will fit atop the soup. Place on a baking sheet and lightly coat the slices of bread in olive oil (one round per cup). Place in the oven for one to two minutes or until toasty. Be careful, broilers work fast so keep a constant eye on them.
Take the bread out of the oven and let it rest. Around this time the soup should have been simmering long enough to serve. Take a ladle and spoon into a bowl. If you are using an oven-safe croc, place one of the rounds of bread over the soup and drape the bread with a slice of provolone cheese before safely putting the bowl back into the oven with a small baking sheet to catch melting cheese for one to three minutes before removing and serving.
If you don’t have a croc to put in the oven, ladle the soup into any bowl and serve however you’d like, bread and cheese optional.
Then, don’t be shy! Burn your tongue because it’s worth it.