How do I make great french onion soup?

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Lex
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2005/06/24 12:49:57 (permalink)

How do I make great french onion soup?

What is the secret of naking great french onion soup at home?
What kind of bread do I use? Should it be toasted first?
What is the best kind of cheese to use? Is it OK to use
cannned broth? Can videlia onions be used or are spenish onions
better?
#1

28 Replies Related Threads

    Willly
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2005/06/24 13:15:43 (permalink)
    Good beef stock is the key. With canned broth, you'll end up a decent soup, particularly if you use a good french bread and real gruyere for the cheese. Make a rich homemade stock and you'll have something altogether different. The problem is that a good stock will take you about 8 hours. I would suggest that it is one on the things you should try once in your life -- it's amazing how good some things can taste.

    Specifics:

    Make your own stock
    Toasted baguette slices
    Real Gruyere cheese
    Use spanish onions --to much sugar in vidalias and they'll carmelize or possibly burn before getting cooked through
    #2
    EdSails
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2005/06/24 13:26:22 (permalink)
    You can use Vidalias, but the key there is----low heat and VERY SLOW cooking. The onions should take about an hour to come to the carmelizing point. Willy's right about the stock----a good homemade stock makes a big difference. I usually make a demi glace base once every 6 months out of bones I've saved and that works well. If you're in a pinch, start with beef broth, add an equal amount of water and then simmer some leftover beef bones in it to make a passable stock.
    #3
    pcdiva
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2005/06/24 13:29:09 (permalink)
    You can also check out the food network web site for Alton Brown's Good Eats recipe where you saute the onions in an electric frying pan to eliminate some of the guess work. You really want the brown bits in the bottom of the pan to be almost black because that will make even canned broth taste good.
    #4
    tiki
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2005/06/24 15:43:18 (permalink)
    By GOOD ingrediants and use the late great Julia Childs recipe and i KNOW you will be satisfied! Its a wonderful soup recipe from a wonderful lady that is truly authentic---and not that hard either!
    #5
    twodales
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2005/06/24 17:17:18 (permalink)
    Lex: I have posted a very good recipe for you over on the Recipe Board.
    #6
    ScreenBear
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/21 17:21:05 (permalink)
    Practice.
    The Bear
    #7
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/21 18:50:56 (permalink)
    Use French onions.
    #8
    Bushie
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/21 19:13:59 (permalink)
    Well, I'm glad to see this thread revived, because I just recently asked the lovely and talented lleechef for advice. She spent years in France, and here's how the "locals" do it, including some "soup lore":

    Well, first some history about French onion soup. When you go to a wedding in Francophile land, the party starts in the afternoon, after the Hotel de Ville (town hall) ceremony (champagne for everyone), then there is the Roman Catholic church ceremony. More champagne. Now we get to the good part, the reception. There is much wine and champagne flowing, at least a 6-course meal (tongue in Madeira sauce, foie gras, a baron of lamb, etc. Croquembouche for dessert). Now it's 2AM and we're all pretty ****-faced, and this is where the onion soup comes into play. NO, NO, the French don't give you COFFEE to sober up, it's onion soup. Trust me, I'm not making it up.

    The verb "souper" means to have supper, that is the evening meal and in the farm country of France it was exactly that. Soup. Salad. Cheese. Bread.

    Here's what we do when we're all drunk in France and need to sober up:

    Saute about 4 onions, sliced, in 1/2 stick of butter. Flambe with a little Cognac. Add the beef stock. Simmer until onions are tender.
    Take a baguette, cut into rounds about 3/4 inch, brush with butter or olive oil and bake until crispy. Now ladle out your soup into oven-proof SMALL crocks, plunk a toasted baguette on top, top with plain old Swiss cheese, run under the broiler. Serve up your salad and enjoy. Don't burn your mouth on the cheese.
    #9
    plb
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/21 20:14:03 (permalink)
    I saw AB cook it recently on Goodeats. You should go to the Food Network website and check out his recipe.
    #10
    Bushie
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/21 20:32:30 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by plb

    I saw AB cook it recently on Goodeats. You should go to the Food Network website and check out his recipe.

    I made Alton's recipe (well, followed it mostly), and it comes out way too intense. Lisa's recipe (above) is much better for a "meal" soup. Alton's version is fine for a small appetizer, but not for a meal.
    #11
    lleechef
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/21 21:00:34 (permalink)
    Thank you Bushie for posting my recipe. The above story is true, in France we only ate it early in the morning at a wedding reception, whilst being ever so SLIGHTLY intoxicated. While it is a VERY VERY basic soup, it is delicious and filling and can be a main course, possibly with a green salad and some bread and a nice ripe Camembert.
    #12
    lleechef
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/21 23:29:52 (permalink)
    Well, the cognac does add a certain "umph" to the soup but you could leave it out. A replacement could be brandy or Armagnac.
    #13
    enginecapt
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/05/27 20:24:44 (permalink)
    The best French onion soup I was ever able to make was when a friend of mine owned a Chicago hot dog/Italian beef restaurant. She would GIVE me the jugs of pure au jus (if that's the correct term) that resulted from all the beef she roasted.

    It was also the cheapest onion soup I ever made, as a neighbor was an onion broker and would give me all the yellow onions I could use.

    Now she's out of the restaurant biz, and he passed on. C'est la vie.
    #14
    greyhoundgrrl
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/06/01 13:43:43 (permalink)
    Start with an onion confit. Here's a simple one you can make in the crockpot (no burned onions, yay!) from eGullet.com:
    1/4—1/2 c butter
    1/4—1/2 c EVOO
    1—3 T demi glace
    3 T sherry and or port
    1 T brown sugar
    7—9 large onions sliced, enough to fill crock pot
    optional, thyme, bay leaf


    Throw everything in the crockpot and stir it up. Put crock pot on high till you go to bed. Stir before going to bed.

    Turn crock pot down to low for overnight. Turn crock pot back up to high for another couple of hours when you wake up. Time about 18 hours all told.

    Note: Onions may vary as to water content. The onions used in this recipe are regular cooking onions.

    Heat up your beef stock, add desired amount of onion confit and some "onion juice," simmer for a few minutes, pour into serving bowls, top with cheese and french bread slices, and pop under the broiler until the cheese is melted and crunchy around the edges. Yummy!
    #15
    wheregreggeats.com
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/06/05 07:48:10 (permalink)
    Cook's Illustrated had a recepie that was based on the onions.

    Roughly: Butter in a cast iron pot ... red onions ... sauteed until very dark ... water to deglaze ... tada onion soup broth.

    Not salty. Notice beef wasn't in the picture at all.

    It was the best I've ever had.

    #16
    IansMom
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/06/05 08:45:05 (permalink)
    What about a great onion soup for veggies.. without the alcohol.. wheregregeats receipe sounds good but is there any others?
    #17
    salsailsa
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/06/07 23:38:13 (permalink)
    Well, I know it's not French Onion, but I made the most AMAZING Vidallia Onion soup today. It was so good I finished the pot. I almost liked it better cold. LOL.
    #18
    V960
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/06/12 15:38:59 (permalink)
    Don't use a bought stock. They, IMHO, are too salty. I also split a small onion, simply blacken it in a small cast iron pan, Griswold of course, and then place it in the soup pot. Adds a distinctive richness, wonderful color and I throw it away before service.

    Stocks are soooo easy to make and freeze. I do them on rainy weekend mornings while watching the subtitled Samurai movies (you know, the ones w/ Zatoichi...the blind samurai and his cane sword, directed by Takashi Shimura...ah, no one does but that's all right). Runs everyone else out of the kitchen, helps me w/ my Japanese and we have homemade stock.
    #19
    MikeS.
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/09/04 03:10:57 (permalink)
    Hai! V960-San weikirimas, so my spelling stinks but I know the movies you are talking about.

    MikeS.
    #20
    V960
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/09/13 13:01:15 (permalink)
    Domo arigato. I was very fortunate to have worked for a Japanese company, Itochu Intl. during the good years. As a manager I was REQUIRED to fly business class, often resulting in an upgrade to first class, for twelve years. BTW when I die I want some time in first class on Singapore Airlines before I get downgraded to Heaven.

    However adding a Guiness stout to the stock also makes for a wonderful onion soup.
    #21
    bcory
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/09/13 13:12:25 (permalink)
    French Canadian Onion Soup is better
    #22
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2006/09/15 14:46:08 (permalink)
    One trick we used to use to give extra flavor and color to our onion soup was to separately cook all the saved onion skins (from the whole days prep work) and some carrot skins if available (from thoroughly washed carrots) in a separate stockpot and then strain and add that broth to the main onion soup pot.
    #23
    roossy90
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2007/01/15 03:11:38 (permalink)
    One thing that you need, TO ME.. Is a nice wine..
    I think a decent red makes it a palate teaser. But there is such a fine line between too little and enough.
    Any other thoughts on this?
    My boss made some the other night, and it had too many onions in it, but the broth was outstanding, with just a nice hint of vino in it.
    #24
    bcory
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2007/01/15 04:30:45 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lleechef

    Well, the cognac does add a certain "umph" to the soup but you could leave it out. A replacement could be brandy or Armagnac.


    Cognac?

    Try a little splash of a good dry sherry instead
    #25
    lleechef
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2007/01/15 11:39:59 (permalink)
    What's wrong with cognac?
    #26
    boyardee65
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2007/01/24 18:40:42 (permalink)
    Start with four or five large onions sliced thinly. Cook on low heat in a stainless steel pan till dark brown. Add 1/2 cup dry sherry to deglaze the pan scraping the bottom to release the fond. Add 2 quarts of homemade beef stock, salt and pepper and simmer for a few hours. Meanwhile slice a bagette into rounds and brush with olive oil and broil till golden brown and hard. Slice gruyere or swiss cheese.
    Into a soup crock, ladle in the soup and top with croutons and cheese. Broil till brown and bubbly.
    Now I'm hungry so I have to go to the store to get some onions.
    #27
    Pigiron
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2007/01/24 19:11:02 (permalink)
    Alton Brown's recipe is really, really good (although I eased way back on the salt).
    #28
    boyardee65
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    RE: How do I make great french onion soup? 2007/01/30 17:50:14 (permalink)
    OK Lex, here's the deal from start to finnish.

    Take about 5 pounds of veal or beef bones and put into a roasting pan with two onions, three carrots, 5 ribs celery, all rough chopped. Add a little olive oil and coat all the veggies(they will roast more evenly when oiled). Roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Transfer to a large stock pot being sure to drain off any excess grease. Deglaze the roasting pan with red wine or sherry making sure to scrape the "fond" off the bottom. Add this to the stock pot. Add to pot 1 or 2 sprigs each of thyme, rosemarry, parsley. Also two bay leaves, twenty or so whole black pepper corns and a dash of salt. Cover with fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and allow to cook 12-24 hours. Be sure to check the water level often as it will evaporate eventually. Try to keep the same ammount of water in as when you started. Strain through several layers of cheese cloth and then refrigerate. You might notice the next day that there is a layer of fat at the top. Remove this before you use the stock. This is the stock we will use in our French Onion Soup.

    Take 5 large onions and cut them in half length ways and then into strips length ways(not half moons).
    In a large high walled stainless skillet add 3-4 tbs olive oil and then onions. Cook on LOW for about an hour stirring and scraping often or until the onions are dark caramel color but not burned.
    Transfer the onions to a soup pot and then deglaze the skillet with one cup wine, sherry, or cognac(your preference) being sure to scrape all of the fond up and reduce by half. Please be careful when deglazing with alcohol. Do it away from open flame!!!
    Pour this reduction in with the onions and then pour in the stock until you have three times the volume of stock to onions. Bring this to a boil and then lower the heat to a low simmer for 1-2 hours.
    This is our basic soup and is ready to eat however there are a few more steps to "French Onion Soup"

    Take a baguette and slice rounds about 1/2 inch thick. Drizzle some olive oil on both sides and place in a 400 degree oven till golden brown turning once to brown both sides.
    These are our croutons.

    Portion soup into soup crocks or sturdy oven safe bowls, place one crouton on top and then top this with one sloce of swiss or greuyere cheese. Place into a broiler untill brown and bubbly!!
    Finaly, Enjoy with some crusty french bread and a nice bottle of Bordeaux.

    I know that this process is very long but it WILL be the best soup you have ever tasted!!
    #29
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