|1 tablespoon||Light olive oil or fresh peanut oil|
|8 cups||Thinly sliced onions (2 1/2 pounds)|
|½ teaspoon||Each salt and sugar (sugar helps the onions to brown)|
|2½ quart||Homemade beef stock, (see following recipe for stock), at|
|Least 2 cups of which should be hot|
|4||To 5 tablespoons Cognac, Armagnac, or other good brandy|
|1 cup||Dry white French vermouth|
The following three recipes are from the book by Julia Child that I was raving about the other day. They actually produce two dishes; the basic butterflied chicken recipe can stand alone or be used as the starting point for all sorts of variations++the Mustard Coated Chicken is just one of the possible take-offs using it. It's nicely hoity-toity in appearance and tastes great.
This is certainly one of the all-time favorites. The canned and packaged onion soups I've tried have been very good, and the only way to better them is for you to have your own beautiful beef stock.
However, bought onion soup will benefit from the flavor additions suggested here. TIMING: For most delicious results, you want a slow simmer for 2¾ to 3 hours.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT SUGGESTED:
A food processor with slicing blade or a hand slicer is useful for the onions; a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan with cover for onion cooking and simmering.
Browning the onions - 40 minutes. Set the saucepan over moderate heat with the butter and oil; when the butter has melted, stir in the onions, cover the pan, and cook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, raise heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.
Simmering the soup. Sprinkle in the flour and cook slowly, stirring, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a moment, then whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. When well blended, bring to the simmer, adding the rest of the stock, the Cognac or brandy, and the vermouth. Cover loosely, and simmer very slowly 1 ½ hours, adding a little water if the liquid reduces too much. Correct seasoning.
Ahead-of-time note: May be prepared in advance; chill uncovered, then cover and refrigerate or freeze.
Serving. Serve the soup as it is, accompanying it with French bread and a bowl of grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese, or gratine it as follows. Makes about
2 ½ quarts, serving 6.
ONION SOUP GRATINEED: When onion soup is a main course, bake it in the oven with cheese and toasted French bread, and bring it all crusty and bubbling to the table. A big salad, more bread and cheese, and fruit could finish the meal,; accompanied by a bottle or two of fruity white wine, like a sauvignon blanc or even a gewurztraminer.
MANUFACTURING NOTE: Be sure you have a homemade type of bread with body here because flimsy loaves will disintegrate into a slimy mass; a recipe for your own homemade French bread also follows.
12 or more Hard-Toasted French Bread Rounds (follows, too) [I left it out. S.C.] 1 to 2 ounces Swiss cheese, very thinly sliced Ingredients for the preceding French Onion Soup, heated ¾ to 1 cup finely grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese SPECIAL EQUIPMENT SUGGESTED: A lightly buttered 3-quart ovenproof casserole or baking dish about 3 inches deep - good-looking if possible. Assembling and baking - about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425F and set the rack in the lower middle level. Line the bottom of the casserole with half the slices of toasted French bread, and spread over them the sliced cheese. Ladle on the hot onion soup and float over them a layer of toasted bread, topping with the grated cheese. At once set in the preheated oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cheese has melted and browned nicely. Serve as soon as possible, if you dally too long, the toast topping may sink into the soup.
From "The Way to Cook", Julia Child, Alfred Knopf, 1989. ISBN 0-394-53264-3
Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; September 16 1992.
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