It really bothers me now when I make something and forget to take a picture of it. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as it did when I first started the blog, but it still happens on occasion. It’s easy when you caught up in cooking and trying to get the meal on the table and you’re talking about homework, what happened at school, work or anything else going on and sometimes by the time I remember there is nothing left to take a picture of. Such is the case when I made French onion soup not that long ago. French onion soup is a personal favorite of Michelle’s and there are lots of recipes out there for it, but this one from America’s Test Kitchen is our personal favorite. It takes longer to cook, but it is so worth it to get the deep, rich onion flavor that you get from cooking the onions this way.
French Onion Soup
3 tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray the inside of a heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot after 1 hour.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven and place it over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle the pot, cook the onions, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and the sides of pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, about 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with dark crust, about 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary. Scrape any fond that collects on the spoon back into the onions. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen the crust, and cook until the water evaporates and the pot bottom has formed another dark crust, about 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat the process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until the onions are very dark brown. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the chicken and beef broths, 2 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on the bottom and sides of the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes. Set the bread aside.
To serve, adjust an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on a baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups of soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with the Gruyère cheese. Broil the soup until the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let the soup cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Admittedly, making the onions this way is a much longer process than some other recipes but I think the flavor you get out of them is worth it. I have had French onion soup before where you can tell the onions were not cooked long enough and taste bitter. That won’t happen with this recipe. You want to make sure that the crocks you use are safe for the broiler to avoid any broken glass in the oven. You could also do all of this in advance if you want to use the soup for a dinner party. The soup will actually have better flavor if it sits for a day or two. You then just need to put it in the crocks under the broiler with the bread and cheese to finish it off. I used homemade broth in mine because I had some around, but if you want to use store-bought it will work just as well here. The flavor for this one is coming mostly from the onions.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe, and I promise to have a picture of it for sure. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!