09 November 2009

Stop your sobbing, part the second

My house still smells like onion soup. Those were some powerful onions.

I did have Tom Yum, but I ordered it in. From a restaurant with which I was unfamiliar. Mistake. It was pretty ghastly. Actually, all of it was pretty ghastly (curry, rice, etc.)

(My SIL is Thai and her father is an excellent cook, and he's probably the best example anywhere of why anyone who can grow it should have his/her own kaffir lime and lemongrass plants. My kaffir lime, for the record, is now 8 ft. tall.)


I referred to this recipe and this recipe as well as my trusty and ancient Fannie Farmer. Ultimately, this is what I came up with, and while I've made this soup in various guises over the years, we liked this one quite well.

French Onion Soup with Cheese Toasts
10-12 servings

5 large red onions
2 Tbl. butter
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. red wine
1.5 quart of low-sodium beef broth
1.5 quart of low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Sliced sourdough bread, cut small enough to fit inside soup bowls. Allow one slice per serving of soup
Sliced swiss cheese
Asiago or parmesan cheese, grated

Slice onions very thinly. Food processor works great; be prepared to weep. Melt butter in a large soup pot or dutch oven (I use one an 8.5 qt. dutch oven) over medium heat. Add onions to the melted butter; sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir onions until coated with butter. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, for 40-45 minutes. Onions will be wilted and lightly brown. Do not allow to burn. While stirring, scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add wine and stir until mixture becomes syrupy. Stir in beef and chicken broths, thyme and bay leaf. Bring soup to simmer and allow to simmer for 30 min.

Meanwhile, prepare cheese toasts: turn broiler to high. Put sliced sourdough on baking sheet; cover slices with swiss cheese and asiago or parmesan. Place baking sheet on rack set 6 inches below element, and broil until cheese bubbles and bread is browned.

When soup has simmered the requisite amount of time, stir in balsamic vinegar, and add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and place cheese toast on each serving.

Notes: I prefer my soup to have more broth. If you prefer less, reduce total amount of broth to 2 quarts. The wine isn't a necessary addition, but it heightens the flavor. I used Malbec because I had an open bottle in the fridge. Caramelized onions can be quite sweet, and I think Cooks Illustrated's addition of balsamic vinegar was brilliant; it really brought out the savory flavor of the soup. Traditionally, you put your soup bowls in the oven and melt the cheese over the bread there, but my bowls aren't broiler safe. Hence, the toasts.

Go listen to some music: "Stop Your Sobbing" from the album Pretenders by The Pretenders.

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