The Best You've Ever Had. Seriously Delicious Soup.
French Onion Soup
2-3 TBS of butter (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
6 onions (yellow, white or sweet will do - see rant below)
2 1/2 cups wine (red, white, whatever you please or a mixture - see second rant below)
6-8 cups stock (more stock equals a thinner soup, do whatever you desire!)
1/2 bunch thyme
2 heaping TBS dijon mustard
salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, at end
if desired, garnish with french baguette, grilled, then topped with grated gruyere and melted in the oven
I like to use a Le Creuset braising pot when making soup - it's not something you need, just a personal preference. These heavy pans distribute the heat evenly and gently while cooking, then stay hot and look pretty when you take them to the table!
The key to making the perfect caramelized onions is this:
1.) Heat up your pan. You should be able to feel the heat coming off of the pan without touching it. We aren't talking smoking hot here, but heat it up! [While you're waiting for your pan, start in on slicing those onions.] I always reiterate this in my classes, HOT PAN, then:
2.) Melt your butter (HOT OIL). Let your butter brown, gently. [This may take a few minutes, go back to your onions.] This speeds up the caramelization of the onions by a lot!
3.) Julienne your onions. Any onion will do. Rant #1: Lots of people think that they need to use sweet or vidalia onions when caramelizing, not true. Onions contain more sugar than apples do - crazy, I know! What you're doing when you caramelize them is working on toasting the sugars. The longer and slower you brown them, the more flavor and sweetness you create. At home I will do this for 3 hours. Who has three hours?! Walk away from them. Clean the house. Do laundry. Call your mother. Take the dog for a walk, a quick one. Come back every 10-15 minutes to give them a quick stir. Then back away. This is where you are creating ALL of the deliciousness, let them work! (It will be worth it.)
Back to this "julienne" and back to knife skills. A julienne of an onion is a slice, 1/8th of an inch thick. Pretty thin. About the thinness of those little lines that you see going the length of our onions. The thinner they are, the quicker they will cook. Really just try to go as thin as you feel comfortable with, more importantly make them all the same size; that way they will cook evenly! If you need that onion tutorial again, here it is:
4.) Once all of your butter has browned, you can start ADDing the onions into the pan. If you've only chopped one, add it. You can continue to add them as you go. Don't stir! Again, we are making the magic here. Cut more onions, go get your cry on!
9.) Let this come together to let the flavors meld, about 15-20 minutes. I do not thicken my soup. Some recipes call for using a roux at the beginning, a slurry at the end or egg yolks to enrichen it. I let the stock do all of the thickening. I think it's perfectly thick and delicious enough just as it is! I don't like all of the starches, I would prefer to dip a cheesy grilled toast in it, and the yolks just give it a weird texture. Personal preference, do what you like!
10.) Season to taste. Add more salt. More than you think. Then add the juice of 1/2-1 whole lemon. I know it sounds weird. Just do it. Lemon juice helps to balance the salt, brighten the flavors and bring out a better version of itself! You will probably need to add a hint more salt. Serve with grilled cheesy toasts (top picture), they're prettier and better than the soggy gooey bread float.