No one was more surprised than I was, when the first time I tried French Onion Soup, I fell in love. You see, for the most part, I HATE onions. I cook with them a lot, because they are the base for so many great recipes, and add great flavor. I love chopping them up, I find that kind of prep work therapeutic. But 9 times out of 10, I will ask for no onions in my food, ESPECIALLY raw ones. Gross.
French Onion Soup was one of those things that I kept seeing people make/eat and always wondered about it. Who doesn’t want all that gooey cheesey goodness? But I simply could not wrap my head around eating a soup compromised mostly of onions. It terrified me, and pretty much made me gag on the spot.
Then I spent some time with my Uncle Pete, and he was pretty famous for his French Onion Soup. We were hanging out one afternoon, and he asked if I wanted to help him make some for dinner. We sliced onions until tears were rolling down our faces, we had a glass (or two) of wine, and chatted while he showed me the tricks to making the best FOS. He was adamant and determined that I give it a try and keep a open mind, he knew I would love it.
So we finally came to the beautiful, aromatic, rich, cheesy, final product, and I had to admit, I was dying to try some. It was calling my name, loud and clear. We all sat around the table, and dug in.
How did I do? I had to put the onion fear out of my head, and just get into it. Boy, did I ever. It was instant love, the balance of flavors and comfort of the whole experience solidified my love for FOS. I am completely picky about it, and usually prefer my own method (that Uncle Pete taught me), and find most restaurant versions disappointing. The recipe he taught me is not fancy, it’s not complicated in any way, but there are some key things to making it a good soup.
Since Uncle Pete passed away this fall, I have made this recipe a few times, and each time I feel his presence with me. I hold that day near and dear to my heart, and thank him for forcing me out of my comfort zone. I will continue to make this for my family, and teach my children how to do it as well. Sometimes the most simple things, really are the best.
- 6-8 med/large cooking onions
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 carton (or 4 cups) of beef broth
- 2 tbsp liquid beef bullion (I use this one)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp veg oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 package Cesar croutons
- 2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
- THINLY slice the onions. I mean thin. You can use a mandolin to slice, if that is easier.
- In a large pot, over medium heat, add the veg oil and butter, until melted.
- Add in all of your onions, reducing the heat to med-low. It looks like a TON of onions, but trust me, they go right down.
- Stir the onions occasionally, they should be simmering slightly. The key to this step, and the most important IMO, is to let the onions caramelize over low heat, over an hour or so. You do NOT want to burn them, or rush the caramelizing process.
- Add in salt and pepper to season, stirring to mix.
- Keep an eye on the onions, they will start to brown and get gooey, and that is where you want them to be.
- Add in minced garlic, and give another good stir.
- Add in the beef bullion liquid, stirring to incorporate. Allow the onions to cook down a bit more.
- Once they are good and cooked down, very soft and caramelized, you are ready to go on. You might think they are too ‘mushy’ now, but trust me, it’s perfect.
- Add the beef stock to the pot, scraping around the bottom of the pan to get the good stuff into the mixture.
- Cover the pot, and let simmer for an hour or so.
- Turn your oven on to ‘Broil’.
- Using french onion soup bowls (like these. I found mine at the thrift store for $1!), ladle the soup into the bowl, filling to 3/4 full.
- Add in a hand full of croutons, on top of the soup. You want to add a single layer, to cover the top.
- Cover the remaining top with the cheese.
- Place bowls into the oven, on top of a cookie sheet to catch spills.
- Heat until the cheese is all melted and bubbly. Keep an eye on it, because the broiler does a quick job of this.
- Remove from oven CAREFULLY, they will be HOT.
- Give them some time to cool down, as much as you want to dive in asap, or you will burn your mouth off.