Thursday, 5 December 2013

Simple French Onion Soup

Last January my boyfriend and I visited Paris as a birthday treat for me. One evening after traipsing around the streets trying to find somewhere to eat (he's fussy and we were unfamiliar with the fact that in Europe a lot of restaurants don't open at 6pm) we found this cute, little restaurant with a view of the Eiffel Tour and it served Soupe à l'oignon Gratinée! I like to throw myself into things when I travel and the menu stated this was a classic so I had to try it - amazingly my boyfriend did too.

The name sounds fancy, but don't let that put you off :) I know I will probably upset a lot of would-be-chefs with my 'simple' version, since it probably cuts a couple of corners and doesn't call for alcohol (I'm a student, do you think I'm going to put that in food?) But I'm hoping that is part of the appeal, it is so simple to make and most importantly calls for heaps of grated cheese!


Ingredients:

- 2/3 Medium onions
- 1 litre of beef stock (I have also used chicken, vegetable etc.)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- Seasoning: Salt & Pepper, Garlic, Thyme, Paprika, Vinegar, Worcester Sauce.

Gratin: 1/2 cups grated cheese, Sliced french loaf.

Method:

1) Thinly slice 2/3 medium onions and set aside. Get a large pot/pan and melt together 1tbsp butter and 1tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and toss them in the oil so that they are coated.


2) Cover the pan and leave it on a low heat for 15 minutes.

3) Uncover the pot, raise the heat and add salt and sugar.

4) Cook for 30 mins until onions are even a deep golden brown colour and a caramelised syrupy texture. Stir regularly to prevent onions at the bottom burning and don't be afraid to cut time down if you're happy with the colour/consistency!*


5) When onions are caramelised add stock. Season lightly with salt & pepper and whatever else you have available. You can add more later so don't over do it, a pinch of whatever you want should be enough for now :)


6) Simmer for 20-30mins whilst tasting and adding flavour to your liking.**


Gratin:



1) For your gratin slice a french loaf and place rounds on a baking tray. Brush lightly with olive oil and put under the grill for 3mins until lightly browned.

2) Ladle*** some of your soup into a bowl and float the toasted rounds on the top.

3) Grate your chosen cheese**** and layer on top of the bread so that it is completely covered.



4) Put the grill on max and cook for 3-5mins checking occasionally. I often add more cheese after a few minutes because gaps will appear in the bubbling lid. Cook until golden brown and then you're ready to eat! (Careful though burning cheese is dangerous!)




Some Tips:
*Sometimes the cooking time varies quite a bit depending on the size of your onions so keep an eye on it!

**I like to add a good bit of vinegar and Worcester sauce because it gives it a little kick, but this might not be for everyone. And once I really overdid the vinegar which was a disaster!

***If you feel you have too high a ratio of onions to soup you can always sieve the soup and remove some that way, but it's best to cook with too many than too few because it adds to the flavour!


****Traditionally I believe Gruyere is commonly used, but I have always personally used cheddar. Parmesan is also good!

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