I had always assumed French Onion Soup had to be a complicated dish to make at home. I mean, it’s “French” after all. As it turns out, it’s really not. Actually, it’s ridiculously simple. Basically, you caramelize onions, dump some beef broth on top, then add the soup to croutons, top with some cheese and broil in the oven. My girlfriend and I have made this dish a few times now and have gotten pretty good at it. We started with a basic recipe that you can find anywhere online and tweaked it along the way. The stroke of genius came when my girlfriend suggested that we add some chorizo on top of the cheese to take things up a notch.
There are only a few ingredients, so they key is using good ones and paying attention to how you season at each step.
Ingredients (makes about 3 bowls)
- 1/8 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 4 cups of thinly sliced onions
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- about 1/4 of a baguette
- 1 litre of roasted beef broth (obviously best if you can make your own, if not a good store bought one will do)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 1/4 cup grated cheese (about the cheese – aged Gruyère is the classic, but any similar cheese will do, we’ve used Gruyère de Grotte, Comté, and Maréchal)
- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped chorizo sausage
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the olive oil. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and put on the lid. Cook the onions on low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure there is no burning. Add the sugar, raise the heat to medium high and cook for another 7-10 minutes stirring often until the onions are nicely browned. Add the beef broth and the bay leaves, bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste (it’s very important to taste the broth at this point and add salt as necessary, particularly if you have used one of those low sodium organic broths). The soup is ready.
In the meantime tear off a few rough chunks of baguette (Tip: for presentation, also slice a thin piece of baguette on a sharp angle. You’ll stick this in the finished soup when it comes out of the oven), coat them in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for 15-20 minutes to make the croutons. If your cheese isn’t grated, now would be a good time to do that. Also, chop the chorizo into very small cubes.
When you’re ready to serve, place 3 or 4 croutons in a broiler proof bowl, ladle on soup, top with as much cheese as you like (don’t be shy) and a tablespoon of chopped chorizo. Slide it into the oven on the top rack (about 6 inches from the broiler) and broil for about 2-3 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Remove from the oven, stick the long slice in for style points, and serve.
Good stuff. The salty bits of chorizo add that small element of meatiness missing from your classic French onion soup and make this into a bit more of a meal. A word of warning – if you’re adding enough cheese and using a decent sized bowl this is a pretty heavy duty soup, so, if you’re serving it as an appetizer think light for the rest of the meal (for example, I would not recommend following up with a 32 oz steak).