For this traditional French onion soup, I used the recipe of fellow blogger Stéphane of My French Heaven. Because I wholeheartedly agree with him that onion soup should be made from… onions! Of course we want to top it with a nice slice of toasted baguette with melted French cheese, but the ingredients of the soup itself are onions, water, salt, pepper, butter and a bit of flour. That’s all! This soup allows the beautiful flavor of the onions to shine, no meat stock or wine needed. The only drawback is that it requires quite a bit of patience, because you have to stir the onions forever until they brown without burning. Stéphane says it took him 30 minutes, but for me it took more like 90! This can be caused by the fact that I made a double batch, or because I should have used a non-stick frying pan. In any case, the wonderful onion flavor makes it all worth it. Even the tears. Kees said he liked it, but thought it would be better with beef stock instead of water. So I guess I’ll have to make this again and do a side-by-side comparison.
For 4-6 servings
2 kilos (4.5 lbs) of medium onions (about 15-20 onions, Stéphane says to use smaller onions because they have more flavor and less water)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
French bread, sliced
grated Comté cheese (or Gruyère if you can’t find Comté)
20 grams (2 Tbsp) flour
Peel the onions.
Slice them thinly.
Take a gratuitous sliced onion shot for Conor‘s benefit.
Melt a generous amount of butter over medium heat in a large, wide, thick-bottomed frying pan or casserole with good heat distribution, preferably non-stick.
Add the onions.
Stir the onions over medium heat.
This is what they looked like after 25 minutes…
…after 40 minutes…
…after 70 minutes…
…and finally after 90 minutes. The onions could have been browned even a bit more, but after stirring them for 90 minutes my patience, of which I have very little to begin with, had really run out.
It is important to keep stirring the onions, as otherwise they will burn and the soup will be bitter. When you keep stirring, the onions brown evenly and develop a wonderful sweet taste with great depth of flavor.
When the onions are brown to your liking, sprinkle 20 grams (2 Tbsp) of flour and stir to incorporate.
Add 1.5 litres (6 cups) of water.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You could add some water if you think the soup is too thick.
Preheat the broiler. Butter slices of French bread on both sides.
Put them under the broiler…
…until they are golden brown on one side.
Turn them over and return them to the broiler…
…to allow them to brown on the other side as well. Watch them carefully, as at first nothing seems to happen, but when the browning starts they can burn in less than a minute.
Ladle onion soup into oven-proof bowls. Put a slice (or two) of toasted bread on top, and top with grated cheese.
Put the bowls under the broiler until the cheese has melted and is nicely bubbly and starting to turn golden.
Serve hot and enjoy.
If you’ve made puff pastry from scratch, the best way to use it is for Beef Wellington (of course you could also make it with store-bought puff pastry). Beef Wellington is a classic, but one of my favorite dishes nonetheless. Tender beef with a tasty mix of mushrooms, wrapped in crispy pastry and served with a delicious red wine sauce.