Cold weather really puts me in a mood for a hot bowl of homemade soup. So as the first snowfall of the year came our way, with schools closed and the kids at home, I went for my favorite soup cookbook, Soup: A Way of Life, by Barbara Kafka.
I was planning for such an occasion, and made sure in advance that my pantry contained all the ingredients for recipes I had bookmarked.
Dry white wine
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Sliced French bread
Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
The key to making this soup a success is properly caramelizing the onions. (I wish for a 7 quart Dutch Oven, which would be perfect for the recipe, but make do with my good 10-quart stock pot.)
I melt the butter over medium heat, then add thinly sliced onions. I use a wooden spoon to layer them evenly, then stir occasionally until they are soft and brown. After about a half hour, they are cooked to perfection.
I add the wine, and loosen a few brown bits from the bottom of the pot. When it begins to boil, I add the beef and chicken stock, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Some stirring once at a boil, then reduced heat to low and simmered for 10 minutes. That didn’t take too long.
I place slices of bread in the bottom of the onion soup bowls, fill with soup, and top with Mozzarella, as it’s the cheese that is always on hand in my kitchen. Then under broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. What a beautiful sight!
The tasty bowls of Onion Soup don’t last long when the call for “Soup’s ready!” goes out to my husband and kids who have been romping in the new snow.
So flavorful, and so easy to make with readily available ingredients, no other soup is as warming to me as French Onion Soup. It is my recommended remedy for a cold winter day.
Basic French Onion Soup
Serves 6 to 8
Tip: To speed preparation, have all ingredients measured and all utensils ready before starting.
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Lbs. Onions, thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
1 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 Qts. Beef Stock (fresh or canned)
or 2 Qts. Water and 8 Bouillon Cubes
1 Clove Garlic
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Cup Dry White Wine (optional)
Splash of Cognac (optional)
French Bread sliced in 1″ thick pieces
1/4 Lb. Swiss Gruyere or Mozzarella Cheese (or combination)
Tools You’ll Need:
6-8 Qt. sauce pot
4 Qt. sauce pan
Scale (optional but recommended)
Cookie sheet or jelly roll pan
Small bowls for ingredients
Melt butter in large sauce pot.
Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil.
Stir in onions, salt, sugar and garlic.
Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes or until onions are golden brown.
Sprinkle flour over onions and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
In a separate sauce pan, heat stock to simmering (or combine water and bouillon cubes and cook until dissolved.)
Add wine and cognac.
Stir hot stock into the onions.
Simmer partially covered for another 30-40 minutes.
While the soup simmers, prepare the bread.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Place bread on cookie sheets.
Lightly coat both sides of bread with olive oil.
Put in oven for 15 minutes.
Turn slices over and bake for another 15 minutes.
Ladle soup into ovenproof individual bowls.
Top with French bread.
Spread the cheese on top.
Bake for 10-20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Serve in bowls. Hot, hot, hot! Enjoy.