“Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.”
— Auguste Escoffier, the founder of Escoffier School of Culinary Arts (his tome of a cookbook)
Part of the reason to make meals involving brilliant flavors is to fill the home with a gorgeous fragrance, especially during the winter months when we are inside far more than typical throughout the year to snuggle in while the temperatures drop.
On Friday of this past week, I found myself craving a cozy meal, one that not only satiated my palette, but dressed up the home’s welcoming bouquet. The week had been busy involving travel, front-end loading upcoming episodes of the podcast, and wrapping up a wonderful kick off to 2018. I must admit I become quite jazzed up for the new year. Perhaps not in the expected way of celebratory rambunciousness, but more of a mental “yahoo!” of sorts. My mind is busy, the ideas are popping and my hope is that I can capture them all to put on paper before they disappear.
And so I found myself picking up onions, Gruyère, a fresh baguette from my neighborhood bakery and using my new soup crocks which I picked up on sale at Sur La Table’s winter clearance (now is a wonderful time to fill the gaps in your kitchenware).
The scent that filled my home was gift enough, but upon sitting down to enjoy a late lunch before heading out to see a movie (Molly’s Game – I highly recommend), my tastebuds thanked me as well.
The beauty of the French Onion Soup recipe is that it is not complicated, and merely needs time to offer the flavor and consistency that is desired. Pull out another project, a book you enjoy stepping in and out of perhaps, and while the soup simmers during its two different durations, sit down and just indulge in a simple task that requires of you to be still. Better yet, this soup can be made three days in advance, refrigerated and simply taken out and reheated on the stovetop, topped with the toasted croutons and cheese, placed under the broiler for 2 minutes and voilà! – lunch or dinner during the week.
As always choose quality everything: from the cheese, the broth, the onions (choose sweet onions only if you want a subtle sweet flavor), and the dry white wine and you will enjoy the simple complexity of a classic winter soup.
French Onion Soup
- 4 medium onions sliced lengthwise or diced (depending upon what you want to enjoy)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 leaf California bay leaf
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine choose a wine you enjoy drinking
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 baguette/artisanal bread diced into generous cubes for croutons
- 1/4 pound Gruyère, Comte or Emmental cheese
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 clove garlic
- On a stovetop in a Dutch oven or its equivalent, cook the onions, thyme, bay leaf and salt in the unsalted butter over moderate heat uncovered.
- Stir often until onions are very soft and translucent, about 30-40 minutes.
- Add flour and cook, stirring for about one minute until the flour is incorporated.
- Pour in the wine and cook, stirring until the onions absorb the liquid, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the beef broth, water and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionaly, for about 30 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice the baguette into 1 inch slices. Slice the clove of garlic in half and rub garlic on each slice. Then chop into large cubes. Place on a parchment or tin foil lined baking. Drizzle with olive oil and toast for 10-15 minutes in the oven (toss once halfway through the baking time). Remove when croutons are dry and slightly brown.
- Preheat oven to broil. Place soup crocks on the same lined baking sheet (having removed the croutons).
- Once the soup has finished simmering, remove the bay leaf and thyme, and discard. Divide the soup into the soup crocks, then place 5-7 croutons (depending upon the size) on top of of the crocks filled with soup. Place 2 slices of Gruyère, Comte or Emmental on top of each crock (letting the cheese go over the sides). Then sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Broil for only 1-3 minutes (no longer or the bread and cheese will burn rather than brown). Remove when cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Note: In my pictures, I first did not dice the baguette slices and found it hard to eat with just a spoon as the bread needed to be cut. Upon enjoying the soup on the second day, I decided to dice the slices as shared in the instructions and found it much easier to eat as the bread was already bite size.
- Note: The soup can be made at least three days in advance, refrigerated and then brought back to temperature on the stovetop when you are ready to serve. The croutons as well can be made ahead of time.
~To view more video and clips of the recipe coming together, check out my Instagram Stories “Highlight” scroll, click on “Dinner Ideas”.
~View more TSLL Recipes here