It is a rainy day in sunny Southern California and that makes me think about warm and comfy food. Amazingly, French Onion Soup keeps popping up into
my mind. The funny thing about French onion soup is that I haven’t always had such warm a fuzzy thoughts regarding it. As a matter of fact, my 8 yr old self didn’t want any part of it. I can remember having a terrible cold and my father, (who of course I idolized, I was daddy’s little girl), who I would make
great efforts to please, announced that onion had medicinal qualities and that some onion soup would be just the thing.
I decided that this was the time to draw a line in the sand and not one drop of the magic elixir passed my lips. However, my mumble, mumble, let’s just say older self does not agree. I guess that I am not alone in this change of heart toward the onion as I remember reading once, on the magazine they give you in the pocket of the seat in front of you on the plane, that in the US we consume approx 20 lbs of onions a year per person! That translates into 450 semi- truckloads of onions, at least that is what the National Onion Association says on their website http://onions-usa.org/all-about-onions/consumption.
The reason that this little-known fact stuck with me is because I read this while on my way home from visiting my mother for Mother’s Day where we had prepared a surprise brunch for the entire family that included, you guessed it, French Onion Soup along with Tortilla Soup, Waldorf Salad, and Caesar Salad.
All this came to mind recently as I read a post that talks about the folklore or maybe even an urban legend, surrounding onions and their medicinal properties. It is an interesting read especially since it is flu season. You can check it out here http://markraysolar.wordpress.com/ and decide how much is true and how much is wishful thinking.
For those of you who would like to try a little French Onion Soup right now, either because you love it or because you want to test my father’s theory, I have included this recipe that I found at http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/french_onion_soup/.
It is easy and well worth the time that it takes to create this golden brown treat and is much more cost-effective than ordering it in a restaurant. The secret here is to cook the onions to a golden brown, slowly, to help them release their sweetness. If you or those you are preparing this soup for have gluten-intolerance I suggest that you substitute Glutino Bagel Chips for the cruton of French bread , baguette, traditionally used to help support the melted golden cheese that rests on top. Or, you can do without it if you do not mind the possibility that the cheese might sink a bit.
red or yellow onions (I prefer yellow)
1/4 teaspoon pf sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups of beef stock
or chicken stock (I prefer beef), or a combination of the two (traditioanlly the soup is made with beef stock)
1/2 cup of
dry vermouth or dry white wine (I prefer white wine)
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
salt and pepper
8 slices of toasted
French bread (I prefer Glutino gluten-free bagel chips, no need to toast, for me, baguette for others)
1 1/2 cups of
grated swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese ) I prefer very thin slices and sometimes use Muenster cheese)
In a large saucepan, saute the onions in the olive oil on mendium high heat until well-browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes )or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the caramelization.
Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the stock, vermouth or wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.
To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls of one large casserole dish (I prefer paper cups if the meal is informal and finish in the microwave making clean up easy).
Ladle the soup into the bowls of casserole dish. Put in the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned (if you use the microwave removes when cheese melts, it will not brown). Serve immediately.