Wednesday, December 8, 2010

French Onion Soup

Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most delicious.  French onion soup is basically onions, broth, bread, and cheese.  These are all very ordinary ingredients, but when combined in just the right way, the result is surprisingly delicious!  And most of the ingredients are very inexpensive!

You don’t need to spend more money to buy any special kind of onion.  Ordinary brown onions work wonderfully.  The onions I used for my last batch came from Sprouts at $0.15 per pound.  You will need more onions than you think because they cook down.

A mandolin is a great tool for this job, but is not necessary.

That's a 5-quart bowl!

The most expensive ingredient in French onion soup is the cheese.  Traditionally, it is made with Gruyère cheese.  At more than $6 per pound at WinCo, however, I pass on the Gruyère and substitute with provolone.

Because the bread is toasted, you do not need it to be really fresh.  If your grocery store has a bakery clearance section, get the bread there.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it is freezable.  I always make a huge pot and freeze half of it.  We end up getting two dinners plus multiple lunches out of it.

French Onion Soup
3 ½ lb. brown onions
3 large garlic cloves
½ c. butter
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ c. flour
¾ c. beef bouillon
3 qts. water
2 bay leaves
1 loaf French bread
Provolone cheese, sliced or shredded
Parmesan cheese, grated

Slice onions using a mandolin (of a knife if you don’t have one).  Mince garlic.  Melt butter in a large pot (at least 5 qts.) over medium-high heat.  Add onions, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent.

Notice how much the onions cooked down from
the previous photo.

Stir in flour and bouillon; continue to cook about 1 minute.  Add water and bay leaves.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Discard bay leaves. 

Slice bread in ½”-¾” slices; toast.  Spoon soup into oven-proof bowls.  Add a slice of toasted bread to each bowl and top with provolone and Parmesan cheeses.

Place under broiler about 5 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.  Serve each bowl on a small plate and be sure to warn everyone that the bowls are hot.  Yield:  about 4 qts.  Total cost:  about $10.

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