French Onion Soup

Nothing says fall like soup.  The obvious signs up here in The Last Frontier are certainly the long shadows finally turning into darkness at night after months of twilight (at best), the birch trees turning the hillsides to a gold piece of art from the Pointillism era, the termination dust creeping down the mountaintops, and a fire finally being lit in our fireplace after months dormant.  The deal is sealed when I finally start making fall soups again.

The more comforting the better.  That’s how I feel about fall soups.  With that in mind, French onion soup tops the chart.  Rich, melty, crunchy, earthy, hearty…the adjectives are endless.  I can’t decide whether I love the rich and flavorful soup part more or the overly cheesy, melty, crunchy bread and cheese part.  This soup is better than lying on the couch on a rainy Sunday with a fire, a fuzzy blanket, and a really good book.  (That’s my version of heaven.)

Embrace the change of seasons.  Enjoy this heart-warming and soul-comforting soup.  You’ll be thankful.

French Onion Soup:
Adapted from this recipe.
  • 6 healthy cups of thinly sliced sweet yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (maybe even a little more)
  • 1ish teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 4ish tablespoons of flour
  • 2 quarts or so of beef stock
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 4 tablespoons of brandy
  • ground black pepper
  • a french baguette, cut into 1-inch-ish slices 
  • unsalted butter, softened
  • grated gruyere or parmesan, or a combination of both
  1. Melt the butter in the bottom of a large soup pan or Dutch oven over medium/low heat.
  2. Add the onions and toss them to coat.  Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.  Let the onions steep for 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, uncover the pot and raise the heat just a touch.  Stir in the salt and sugar.  Cook the onions for 30 to 40 minutes (maybe even more!) until they have turned a dark golden brown.  In my opinion, the slower and more caramelized, the better.  Just make sure the heat is low enough that the onions have absolutely no chance of burning.
  4. Once the onions are deliciously caramelized, sprinkle them with the flour and stir.  Ensure the flour does not clump.  (Add a touch of olive oil if needed.)
  5. Add the vermouth, then the stock, a bit at a time.  Stir and mix and love.
  6. Bring to a simmer and partially cover the pot.  Simmer for 30 minutes or so.  Taste along the way.  When almost done, add the brandy.
  7. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Butter you baguette slices and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake in the oven just long enough for them to become a light golden brown.  Be careful not to burn.  Remove from the oven and set aside until you are ready for the final assembly.
  8. Remove the toast pieces.  Arrange the number of bowls you will need for serving on the foil-lined baking sheet.  Fill the bowls with soup, leaving enough room to add a layer of toasts on top.  Cover (and I mean cover) with the grated cheese.
  9. Bake soups until the cheese is nice and melty.  Then crank the broiler for a minute or two to brown the top.  Remove from oven and serve.
  10. Resist the temptation to dive right in–you will lose the skin on the roof of your mouth.  Let’s just say I told you so!  🙂

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