Friday, January 20, 2012

French Onion Soup

You can make onion soup with store bought chicken and/or beef stock – but the best is made with homemade beef stock so I am including the recipe for that. You can refrigerate it for up to three days, or freeze it for up to six months. As with all liquids, if you freeze it, leave a bit of space in the container to allow for expansion when it turns to ice. The rich flavor of the base is not just due to the broth, but also to the caramelized onions. Caramelization is the procedure in which the onions are cooked slowly until the melting sugars approach burning temperature, becoming brown. 

Exact quantities are of little importance and timing is rough, but here is what you need to do. Roast the beef bones and any beef scraps for 30-60 minutes at a high heat to brown them. This enhances the flavor and draws out the fat. Once the bones are brown and you have removed the excess fat, put them in a stockpot with vegetables (equal parts of chopped carrots, celery, onions) and seasonings (parsley, thyme, bay leaves, salt and black pepper). Scrape all the burnt on bits out of the roasting pan and add them to the stockpot. Add cold water to well cover the meat and vegetables. Once you have all the ingredients in the stockpot, bring the beef broth to a boil and then simmer it for several hours, skimming off any foam that floats on top. Keep tasting the beef broth. When it tastes good - it is done. Discard the vegetable scraps and bones. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth lined colander and let it cool down.

Recipe for 6

3 onions or 6 medium sized yellow onions - peeled
1/2 cup of butter
1 oz flour
6 cups of beef bouillon (or if store-bought use 3 beef and 3 chicken)
12-18 thin rounds cut from a baguette
12 tablespoons of grated gruyere (or Swiss cheese)

Cut each onion in half, removing the tough part of the root. It is important to cut into equal paper
thin slices. If parts of slices are too thick they will take longer to color while the thinner parts will
burn. In a deep heavy-bottomed pot heat butter allowing to melt but not brown. Add the onion slices
stirring with a wooden spoon. When the onions are golden just beginning to turn brown, reduce the
flame to low and add the flour and continue to stir, until flour turns blond. Add the liquid, raise the heat and stir until it starts to boil rapidly. Reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes.

Just before serving, if you have enough ovenproof soup bowls ladle the soup into the individual bowls.
Place two baguette rounds to float on the surface of each bowl and cover each round with grated cheese
And a bit of pepper. Place on a cookie sheet under the broiler until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Serve piping hot. (If you do not have individual ovenproof soup bowls, use a wide short sided pot which you will serve from at the table).

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