What can you turn this into?
Those, my friends, are the simple ingredients for French Onion Soup. It took me a while to figure out how to make a good one–the mistake I kept making was not cooking the onions long enough, winding up with a very onion-y tasting soup (and not in a good way). I finally learned to be patient and not to have the heat too high, which makes all the difference in the world.
A food processor to slice the onions is not a necessity, but it makes quick work of the task. Also, when choosing your onions for this recipe, make sure you do NOT use sweet onions like 1015’s, etc. As the onions break down during cooking (once you cook them long enough) they naturally caramelize. If you use sweet onions, the end result will be way too sweet. Trust me on this–been there, done that.
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large onions, sliced (not sweet onions)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, strip leaves and discard stems
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
3 tablespoons flour
8 cups beef broth
In a large pot or deep saucepan on medium heat melt the butter, add the olive oil, then the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme leaves and bay leaves. Use as much or as little pepper as you want–I just use a light sprinkling. It’ll start out looking like this:
The pan looks small, but it’s a 6 quart saucepan. Make sure whatever pot or pan you use is large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Turn the heat to medium low, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes or so, stirring frequently. You don’t want to scorch the onions, but have them turn a golden brown. Turn the heat down a little if necessary. Here’s a pic of what they look like about 5 minutes or so before they reached that stage:
As you can see, they have reduced significantly. Once they are golden in color, add the flour and continue stirring for about 3 minutes. If you are using it, add the red wine. It’s not a necessity–the wine adds a subtle layer of flavor, but the soup will be good with or without it. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes. This is what it looks like at this point (with the red wine added):
Remove the 2 bay leaves. Add the beef broth slowly, stirring well to incorporate it into the onions. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir, then add salt and/or pepper if needed. The soup is now ready. You can garnish individual bowls of soup with a slice of toasted French bread or croutons and Swiss cheese, but I like it just as well without the extras, with some fresh ground pepper on top.