I recently made French Onion soup with a friend of mine. We were surprised at how easy it was to make. I decided that I would make it for my mom and dad when I went home for Spring Break.
For anyone who was raised by foreign parents, you understand. My mom has been cooking 3 meals a day since she got married. Before that she spent a good deal of time with her mother in the kitchen helping out and setting the foundation for a life of food preparation. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean for this to sound like a bad thing. I think it it wonderful and I love that I too was raised this way. My mom started me out making pudding. It’s very simple, and most European, and Middle Eastern cuisines have a pudding, typically milk with some kind of starch to thicken it. I will save the recipe for another post, when I actually make it and can post photos.
So when I suggested, like I have done in the past, that I was making a meal, my mom agreed. Now, as I was making the stock for the French Onion soup my mom was watching, she is a lifelong learner and her curiosity was enticed by the smell of simmering thyme. But! She questioned everything I was doing and even suggested we just make soup out of the vegetable broth. Had anybody else made this suggestion I may have been offended, and yes, I was annoyed but I understand my mom and where she comes from. Everything outside of the routine is a hassle, this was a hassle, but I soldiered on.
Unfortunately I will talk about food in this post and not post photographs to verify. Hopefully in the future I can come back and edit this post and include photographs when I make it again.
So I made vegetable stock first.
1 white onion, cut in half and then sliced thinly
2 stalks of celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs of fresh parsley
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups of water
a small handful of whole peppercorns
In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery and carrot in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, until the onions have wilted slightly. Add the remaining ingredients over high heat, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once done, I strained the broth into a jar and kept the vegetables in the pot. The broth I would use for the French Onion soup and the vegetables were used for a vegetable soup that my mom made the next day.
Vegetarian French Onion Soup
3 whole yellow onions (I have found it to be 1 onion/person if you’re looking to adjust the recipe)
1 tbsp olive oil
dash of salt
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups broth (traditionally beef, I used vegetable stock listed above)
3 slices of farmers bread (any bread will work, I used a whole wheat, grainy and seedy bread)
shredded gruyére cheese (sliced would work just fine)
Peel the onions, cut them in half and slice them into thin half moon slices. In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil and carefully add the onions, salt, bay leaf and thyme. This takes the longest, about 30 minutes, saute the onions until they are a golden amber color, stirring often so they do not stick to the pot.
Once the onions are a golden color, add the wine and let sizzle off for a couple of minutes. Then add the broth, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, shred the cheese, toast the bread, and pre-heat the oven to 450˚ F. After the bread is toasted, I like to break it up into small pieces to make it easier to eat.
Once the soup itself is done, ladle it into 3 oven-safe dishes, place a slice of bread (or cover the top of the bowl with crumbled up toasted bread) and a thin layer of cheese. (I say thin because it’s a natural tendency to want to put a lot of cheese on the top, but you really don’t need it, it gets harder to eat and then the whole soup gets consumed by the flavor of the cheese, which is unnecessary, and in fact undesirable). Place in the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes or until the top of the cheese/bread is golden brown.
My mom and dad loved it. My dad even insisted that it was too much to eat, he licked his bowl clean and concluded it was just right.