Friday, December 2, 2011

Traditional French Onion Soup

Michael Ruhlman posted this Traditional French Onion Soup over on his blog recently. It is made without a beef stock base, and I wanted to try it for a weekend party because we had a vegetarian in our group. Let me tell you, it is a great tasting soup! I liked it better than the typical French Onion Soup made with canned beef broth... but to be fair, I've never tried the stock version with homemade beef stock.

I made a double batch to take to my pre-Thanksgiving vacation weekend with friends. The pot of onions shown above is just the start of one batch, about 5 pounds of Vidalia onions in the pot, which is what I had on hand, rather than Spanish onions the recipe calls for. Vidalia onions are sufficiently sweet for this soup, although not always available all year long.

The onions cook down slowly in a bit of butter. Here's what they look like (above) after 6½ hours at a low simmer.

The next step is to slice and toast some baguettes or french bread, and grate half a pound or more of Emmanthaler or Gruyére cheese. Set the toasted bread rounds and cheese aside, and preheat the broiler.

To the pot of onions, add the water and sherry, bring up to high heat, and adjust seasonings to taste. Fill oven-proof soup bowls with soup, float the baguette slices on top, cover with a generous amount of grated cheese and stick under the broiler to melt and lightly brown the cheese.

In all our dinner hubbub, no one took photos if the individual bowls as they came out of the oven, but the photo on Ruhlman's blog is great.

Serve immediately. YUM!


  1. OK, you need a yum box down there w/your interesting, etc. boxes. 'Cause this is beyond interesting. =0) This is into "I wanna make it today!" whine territory. It'd be perfect for our grey, cloudy, frigid, but snowless day here.

    Have you ever started onions from seed in the garden? I've tried starting them indoors, but haven't been happy w/the results, so I'm thinking about starting them in the ground.

  2. Yes, it is YUM!

    I don't try to grow onions, but use my space for shallots and leeks instead.

  3. How are they to start? I imagine they'd be similar.

    In my garden I tend to focus more on the plants we use a lot & that would be vital to a survival garden, the old stand-bys.

    This winter I'm prepping my grain patch... going to try hull-less oats, quinoa, buckwheat. See what can manage to survive our harsh conditions here.

  4. I can still afford to buy onions, but leeks and shallots are beyond my purse. I buy leek starts (pretty cheap, actually) from Dixondale Farms, and save shallots just like I save some garlic to replant.

    I don't remember where I bought my original shallots, some to eat with some saved to plant. I'm several generations down the line now, and in some years they are small. Still tasty, tho'

  5. Whoops, didn't answer the question properly. I buy leek plants in the spring, 100 to a bunch. I fall plant garlic and shallots. They may grow some tops before winter sets in, and die back, but their root system os established by then and they grow gangbusters in spring. Side-dress with Azomite or Greensand in spring.


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