My favorite French influenced dish has to be French Onion Soup. I don’t know what it is about this soup but to me it just screams comfort food. There are a lot of restaurants and store bought French Onion Soup that don’t do justice to the name “French Onion Soup”. For this reason, I want to take a moment to show you how to make some legit French Onion Soup which I learned from Chef David Féau.
Obviously a good French Onion Soup starts with onions and lots of them. Here is what you will need to make this soup:
- 5 Yellow Onions
- 2 Red Onions
- 2 Sweet Onions
- 350 mL Brandy or Cognac (half bottle)
- 350 mL White Wine (half bottle)
- 64 oz Chicken Stock
- 32 oz Beef Stock
- 32 oz water
- 1 satchel of black pepper corn (2 – 3 Tbsp)
- 1 Loaf Ciabatta or French Bread (sliced)
- 16 oz Shredded Mozzarella
- 16 oz Pepper Jack Cheese
The first step is to julienne your onions, add some oil and cook the onions to a nice brown color under medium/low heat.
Make sure you do not rush this process, you need to let the onions cook down while not burning them. Initially every 5 – 10 minutes you will want to stir the onions around with a wooden spoon. If you see brown spots forming on the bottom of the pan use the wooden spoon and scrub the brown bits with the onions.
When your onions are cooked down they will take up a lot less space in the pan. Make sure to stir your onions more frequently as they get darker. As far as the color goes, you can cook them down to a nice light brown or you can go for a dark brown. It depends on the flavor you want in your soup and the texture you want for the onions. If you keep your onions a light brown they will have a little more “bite” to them when you eat them in your soup. They won’t be hard by any means but they also won’t instantly disintegrate once they hit your mouth. The darker you go the more complex and “caramelized” the flavor will be but the trade off is your onions will be so soft they will basically turn into mush. In this example I am keeping the onions at a light brown because I like the onions to hold their shape while in the soup.
Once your onions are cooked down, turn off the heat and add in your alcohol. After you add in your alcohol you can turn the heat back on, just make sure to not stir the pot for at least 30 seconds after you turn the heat back on to high. After 30 seconds use your wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to break up any of the dark bits at the bottom of the pan. This is where 90% of the flavor comes from so you want to make sure the brown bits get deglazed. Cook the alcohol till it reduced by half, this should take roughly 20 minutes.
After you reduce the alcohol it should look like this…
At this point add in your chicken stock, beef stock and water. Once the soup gets back to a boil add in the pepper corn satchel.
Cook the soup for one hour while covered.
After an hour your soup will look like this…
Now that the soup is finished you will want to focus on the crouton. Just take your bread and paint some extra virgin olive oil on the top side and sprinkle it with some kosher salt. Bake the bread for roughly ten (10) minutes at 400 degrees. Don’t toast the bread to the point where it begins to brown, you just want the bread to crisp up so it has a nice crispy crust. Place the toast on top of the soup and add a layer of Mozzarella cheese and top it off with some pepper jack cheese. Make sure you use a ramekin or a bowl that can sit under a broiler. To melt the cheese you can either use a torch or you can place the soup under a broiler. Just make sure to watch the cheese because you want it to melt but not burn. That is it…. bon appetit!