We’ve had some random ingredients tucked away in the kitchen lately and I don’t want anything to go to waste. After Easter I had 3 bags of different types of onions in the house and I thought French Onion Soup. I also had some stale bread and beef stock cubes as well and that’s all you need.
As my latest cookbook purchase is the infamous Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Simone Beck I adapted this recipe from this amazing book. This was so easy and had a big payoff. As most of Julia’s recipe are designed for dinner parties of 6-8 people I halved the recipe. Julia also offers some tips on how to “doctor up” beef stock made from cubes. I used what I had around the house.
Can I mention how much I love this book? It’s the first time I’ve read a cookbook like a novel. Seriously, a great book for a cook of any skill level.
Serves: 4 bowls
Cooking time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Variations: The soup is great on its own but can also be great with some crispy croutons and cheese.
¾ lbs (12 oz) yellow onions (This was about 7 small onions for me)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Salt
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon flour (optional)
1 ½ pints beef stock (I made from Beef stock cubes as it was all I had)
Grated Swiss (Emmental), Cheddar or Parmesan cheese (or a combination)
I also used tomato paste, a bay leaf, dried thyme, fresh parsley, and onion to spruce up the stock. She also recommends adding white wine, celery and carrots.
- Slice the onions. You can really do this however you like because they will taste the same either way. My preference is to cut them in long slices and not diced. I saved a tablespoon of the onion to add to the stock and kept this aside.
- Put a large knob of butter into a medium to large saucepan with a tablespoon of oil. Melt the butter down over a medium-low heat. This should only take a minute.
- Toss the onions into the saucepan and mix until the oil and butter have coated them thoroughly.
- Cover the saucepan and let cook for 15 minutes. As long as your heat is low enough to prevent burning, you can leave the onions to cook on their own without mixing during this time.
- Add the salt and sugar and give a mix.
- Turn the heat up to medium and cook for 30 to 40 minutes uncovered. You need to keep an eye on your onions so they do not burn. You will need to stir quite frequently until the onions turn a golden brown. You may need to add more butter and/or oil to keep the onions from sticking during this process or turn down the heat if your stove top runs hot.
- While the onions are cooking you can heat your stock. As I used stock cubes I followed the instructions to make 1 ½ pints stock. I also followed Julia’s recommendations to help give more flavor to stock made from cubes.
- I added the tablespoon of onion I saved, a tablespoon of chopped parsley, ½ bay leaf, a dash of dried thyme, and a ½ tablespoon of tomato paste. I let this simmer while the onions cooked down to give the stock a more homemade flavor. She also recommends using a glug of white wine, ½ tablespoon finely chopped celery and 1 ½ tablespoons of carrot. I strongly believe celery helps stock taste homemade and wished I’d had some on hand but the stock came out great with what I had on hand.
- Once the onions have cooked down to golden brown Julia recommends added the flour to the onions and to stir for 3 minutes. I did not add the flour to see if it would still work as a gluten-free recipe. The flour helps give it a silky texture, without the flour the soup stays brothy and works just as well. It is down to your preference.
- Strain the stock through a sieve to catch all the bits and then add to the onions.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Julia also recommends adding 1/8 pint of dry white wine or vermouth but as I had none on hand I omitted this part.
- Allow the soup to simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.
- If you would like to serve your soup with croutons and cheese then while the soup is simmering prepare your
croutons. First, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.
- Cut some stale (or fresh if it is all you have) bread into 1 inch cubes. Spread out on a cookie sheet and put in the preheated oven until the bread is dried out.
- Halfway through, take the croutons out of the oven and brush one side with the oil and rub with a clove of garlic. Put back in the oven to continue cooking.
- Serve the soup in oven-proof tureens if possible so they can go under the grill to melt the cheese. Julia recommends adding some cognac right before serving but again I omitted this step.
- Place a couple of croutons on top of the soup and sprinkle with cheese. I only had cheddar in the fridge so I used this.
- Turn the oven to grill and place the soup in the oven until the cheese has just melted.
- Lastly, I add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce.