Anita's French Onion Soup
A Little Background:
French Onion soup originated in Paris in the 1800's. The soup created with beef broth and caramelized onions has certainly stood the test of time. I have been making French Onion Soup for the last 40 years. It is truly a favorite of mine and I have tweaked this recipe many times over the years. It can be decadent with the imported Gruyere running down the sides of the bowl or on the healthier side with just a little toasted bread and minimal cheese. Always imported Gruyere though. Onion soup warms the soul. It is truly a one-pot wonder and you can have it ready for guests in about 30 minutes. Keep some large yellow onions on hand, a wedge of Gruyere in the fridge, a little beef stock in the freezer and a beautiful bottle of Madiera in the wine cabinet and you will always be ready for an impromptu dinner opportunity. On your way home from work pick up a loaf of french bread, a bottle of Chardonnay and you will be ready for dinner quests. No quests - just cut the recipe in half as I do for my husband and I.
What You Need: Stove Top & Broiler 30 minutes
4 Large Yellow Spanish Onions
2 boxes organic beef broth - (32 ounce containers) or of course, homemade is best.
4 -6 ounces of beef demiglace ( I purchase mine at Palmer's in Henrietta, NY or you can purchase this item online)
1 cup of aged Madiera Wine
1 cup Pinot Grigio or dry Chardonnay ( Kendall Jackson - a favorite)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 2-3 sprigs of fresh)
3 large fresh sage leaf - (optional)
3 bay leaf
2 cups filtered water
2 pinches of freshly ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt (this will depend on your tastes and of course the beef broth you used)
2 tablespoons imported butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
parsley to sprinkle on top
6-8 slices of dense french bread or
pumpernickel bread slices ( 1 large or 2 small pieces per bowl)
Enough imported Gruyere to add to top to broil
How to Make It:
Turn oven to 350 to toast bread for 10 minutes - leave oven on, remove bread.
Heat a large 4 quart heavy pan to medium and add butter and oil. Add onions to pan and cook onions until lightly brown, and beautifully caramelized. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir often - be patient, you cannot rush this step. It may take about 10-15 minutes. At this point I usually sprinkle with thyme because I just love the earthy aroma it creates as it hits the hot onions.
Once onions are caramelized, add white wine to deglaze the pan, and then begin adding beef broth, demiglace, sage, bay leaf, nutmeg & the Madiera. Turn heat to a simmer and let flavors blend - about 15 minutes.
Turn oven temperature to Broil
Laddle soup into bowls. Add a splash of Madiera into each bowl, add bread, then cheese, then parsley then broil till golden brown on top.
(serves 4 - total cook time 30 - 40 minutes)
I know this is a lot - I know what you are thinking - but, it is totally worth it. Once I complete the video, it will all become much more clear. Also, I must mention, this recipe is a bit pricey to be made correctly. Onions of course are reasonable enough, but the demiglace will cost $16 per pound - you will be using 1/4 of the container. The aged Madiera may run about $25 per bottle of which you will be using 1/2 cup. There are approximately 3 cups of alcohol in a bottle, so you will at least get 5-6 soups out of that one bottle. Imported Gruyere runs about $16 per pound - you will be using at least half of that. Let me just say if you can afford the initial expense, you will be rewarded greatly once you taste your soup.
Video to come in the near future !
Be fearless - have fun! Anita