Saturday, January 6, 2018

French Onion Soup

The first time I went to Paris, I was a young adult and completely in love with the city. I didn't have much money and was carefully budgeting, so my solution was to eat a lot of French Onion Soup for lunch. I would have my Baguette in the morning and would only eat a full meal at dinner. French Onion Soup didn't cost very much and I could eat it at sidewalk cafes and watch people walk by. The soup was so delicious and to this day, I think of sitting in Paris whenever I eat it. 

French Onion soup is rather easy to make. It's just time consuming to brown the onions to get the right level of caramelization. Then a light White Wine is added along with Bay Leaves and Thyme and Beef Broth. If you want to make it vegetarian, just use Vegetable Broth and it will still be good as the flavor is really all in the caramelized Onions. French Onions Soup is usually served with toasted Baguette slices with broiled Gruyere Cheese on top. Of course, I omit the bread and cheese for my portion, but I do eat it with buttered Gluten Free toast that I dunk into the broth so I make the soup a little bit thinner than the typical French way. Since I serve it to my family and they are not Gluten and Dairy Free, I do bake the Baguette slices and broil the Cheese on them to top the soup. I don't like to broil the Bread and Cheese in the soup as the bread gets very soggy. But, if you want to be more authentic, make sure that you have heatproof bowls. French Onion Soup is a wonderful bowl of soup and the bonus is that it brings back good memories for me of my first wonderful trip to Paris.

French Onion Soup

4 very large Yellow Onions (about 2 pounds), sliced thin
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Tablespoons Butter
3 - 4 sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 medium Bay Leaves (or 1 Large)
1 cup White Wine
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper
5 cups of Beef Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
1 cup of Water

For serving:
6 ounces of Gruyere or Emmentaler Cheese, sliced thin
10 - 12 slices of a Baguette

In a large heavy pot, melt the Butter and then add in the Onion slices, minced Garlic, Herbs, Salt and Pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the Onions become golden brown - about 40 minutes. Be sure to scrape the fond (the stuck onion bits) off the bottom. Then add in the Wine and bring to a boil and then add the Beef Broth and Water. Bring to a boil again and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an additional 20 - 30 minutes. 

For the Cheese Bread:  

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the Baguette slices on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil. Place the slices of cheese on top of the Baguette slices and put under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread is growing. Watch carefully as this goes fast. Place 2 - 3 slices of Cheese Bread on top of each bowl of soup.

Five Element Analysis

Onions belong to the Metal Element, but when they are cooked long and slow until they caramelize, they then become an Earth food.  The Beef Broth brings in even more Earth.  The Garlic is a Metal food and so are the Herbs. Gruyere cheese adds even more Metal. The Wine brings in the Fire Element and as a Soup, this is fundamentally a Water food. Only the Wood Element is missing and the Baguette contributes some of that element. I suggest serving this soup with a leafy green Salad and you will have a balanced Five Element meal!

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