Soup is a good way to welcome fall
September 24, 2013
By Maria Nelson
Easy, flavorful French onion soup is a perfect way to welcome fall.
With shorter days approaching, leaves beginning their slow, vibrant metamorphosis and wafts of fall greeting us at every turn, it’s time to turn our thoughts to warm and comforting food.
September is often our bonus month of summer. However, despite our lovely, frequently sunny days, a change in the air is most often immediately felt once the calendar turns and Labor Day has come and gone. Cooler, shorter evenings require soups, slow-cooked dinners and hopefully more time around the dinner table enjoying them.
Making soup is one of my favorite ways to make a lot of food fast. Growing, starving teenage boys require huge quantities of food to keep them happy, and soups without fail are my go-to on busy days and nights when my family is hungry and clamoring for dinner.
French onion soup has been a favorite of ours for some time, and really one of the simplest, most flavorful soups you can make. Ease and simplicity are not two words I would have thought to associate with this luscious meal, but truly it is and they are.
Good quality ingredients will be the difference between outstanding French onion soup and average soup. Use the best beef stock you can find, and if you are lucky enough to have some homemade stock stashed somewhere, definitely use that. This soup keeps well and tastes even better the day after it’s made.
French Onion Soup
- 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup cognac
- 1 ½ cup dry white wine
- 8 cups good quality beef stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pepper to taste
- Sliced baguette rounds
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ lb. Comte or Gruyere cheese, sliced
In a large, heavy bottom pot over medium high heat, sauté the onions in the butter and oil for 30 minutes, stirring periodically. Onions should caramelize a bit, char and soften slightly but still maintain their structure.
Add the cognac and scrape up browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Simmer 2-3 minutes and then add the wine, bay leaf and beef stock.
Simmer for 20-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf and thyme.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay baguette rounds in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast the bread for 5-6 minutes or until it begins to turn golden. Remove from the oven and rub a garlic clove over each slice of bread. Top each slice with as much cheese as you’d like and return to the oven for 4 minutes or until the cheese is sufficiently melted.
Fill bowls with soup, top with the bread and cheese, and serve immediately.
Alternatively, if you have ovenproof bowls, place the toasted and garlic-smeared bread atop the soup, add the cheese and broil until bubbly and golden brown.
Maria Nelson is a blogger and food photographer living in Issaquah. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Relish Magazine, Buzz Feed, Daily Candy and other online publications. Find her at www.pinkpatisserie.blogspot.com.