- Cut onions in thin semicircles of 2 mm thickness. If you cut onions thicker, the soup texture won’t be so good, and it might influence time of cooking.
- For onions to caramelize better, add a pinch of sugar. It is especially important to add a little sugar of onions are bitter.
- The most important and responsible stage is a caramelization of onion (you may call it “stewing”). This is exactly what makes this soup French onion soup. Caramelize onions with sugar over low or medium heat for a while, stirring occasionally. Don’t let onions go brown or dry as they should be soft and eventually turn golden brown. This deep golden brown color (the key word here is “brown”) adds a unique flavor to this legendary soup. Some sources say that onions need 4-5 hours to get caramelized. That may take this long for restaurant soup, but for regular homemade one this process takes 50-60 min.
- Broth is incredibly important here! The soup is made with strong beef or chicken broth.
- Wine is another important ingredient of this soup. It is added either in the middle of the process for a subtle flavor or in the very end to make a flavor more intense. Sometimes wine can be added directly in a bowl with soup when serving. It is also important to choose wine according to your taste. If you want your soup to have a slightly sour taste – choose dry white wine, a sweeter one – cider, sherry, porto, vermouth. There is also a variation with sparkling wine. The amount of wine is also up you. The amount of wine this recipe calls for adds a flavor of medium intensity. When serving, you may add some cognac to the soup.
- In order not to overload the soup with different shades of flavor, only a few sprigs of thyme or a bouquet garni (a few sprigs of parsley, thyme, black pepper, a bay leaf) are added. It’s better not to add other herbs.
- Toasts and cheese for serving are a must. The perform, to my mind, two very important functions – flavoring and esthetical ones. Let’s start with the latter. As I have already mentioned before, the soup has greyish color. If you use beef broth (and that would be the most classic variation), it will have deep gray color, if chicken – it will be less grey but more yellow, but anyway grayish. So placing toasts on top, sprinkling them with grated cheese and grilling will brighten up the soup. But the most important is, of course, the flavor. Onion soup is usually served with piquant and fragrant cheese (like Gruyère) and grilled baguette slices. The latter are placed on top of each portion, sprinkled with grated cheese and grilled for a few minutes for cheese to melt. The dish is served immediately until cheese is still tender. And here you, breaking off a piece of a toast topped with gooey cheese with your spoon, spooning some soup and…bliss!
- Appropriately cooked and served onion soup has a wonderful intense flavor. It means that it is not perfectly paired with all kinds of main courses. I recommend you choose those main course dishes that have a neutral taste.
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