French Onion Soup Recipe – Postcards from Paris
When I was a girl growing up in Cincinnati, there was a large department store called Shillito’s. My family and I traveled to town infrequently, but when we did, we seemed to always end up there. Once a year, they had an event called “World Bazaar”… and it held me spellbound. So many different cultures brought together on the top floor of a department store in the Midwest.
A swirl of color and brass from India, dark mahogany from Africa, but what intrigued me most was the exhibit from France! Yes, yes, even then! I begged and begged till my mother bought me a little doll dressed in native Breton costume. I still have that doll, wrapped in tissue at the bottom of an old cedar chest. I received something else that day as well…my first taste of French food. At the exhibit, they were serving French onion soup! At that point in my life, it was the most exotic thing I’d ever tasted.
Years past, I grew up and so did my taste buds, but my love of French onion soup remained constant. So whether I’m eating it at a bistro in Paris, or at home on Sunday with my family and friends, I think of that bazaar and my intro to all things French.
Here is a recipe that I have adapted along the way using fresh ingredients combined with a bit of the fruit of the vine, cheese and bread…what could be more French?
Make it special, make it Sunday!
Classic French Onion Soup Recipe
Yield: 6 - servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
A savory, traditional French onion soup.
3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup Muscadet or dry white wine
1/2 cup medium dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups of either beef or chicken broth
Note: I have used both chicken and beef broth, but if you prefer the classic presentation use only beef broth, if you would like a lighter taste, use chicken broth or even a combination of the two.
12-18 slices of baguette
2 tablespoons butter
1 large clove garlic
3 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven that has a lid. Add the onions and sugar, sauté for 5 minutes then stir in the white wine, sherry and pepper. Place in the oven and bake without the lid and stir intermittently for about 1 hour till the onions begin to brown. Put the lid on and cook for about another hour or until the onions are caramelized.
Remove onions from oven and turn oven on to broil.
At this point, tie your fresh thyme and bay leaves together with kitchen twine.
Put the beef and/or chicken stock into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the thyme/bay leaf bundle to the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer and let broth simmer for about 35 minutes.
While the broth is simmering, place the bread on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes on each side until golden. Remove from oven and take the garlic clove and rub on one side of the bread, then butter the bread.
Now, take the caramelized onions and divide into 6 oven-proof containers. Add the broth to the onion mixture till it almost reaches the top of the container. Place 2 or 3 pieces of bread on top and sprinkle with the Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Place the containers in an oven proof pan and place under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes till the top is golden. Please keep a close eye on this so that it does not burn.