Tuesday, November 25, 2008
My book club read a great food related book in December 2006. Instead of the group discussing the book everyone was asked to share a food related story and to bring the recipe as well. One member shared her tradition of making and eating French Onion Soup on Christmas Eve. Since my husband and I were going to celebrate the holiday alone with our two children we decided to try and see if this could be a tradition for our family. I decided to make it for Christmas Day not Christmas Eve. I hoped that with so many new toys for both the children and my husband that I would be able to make this meal in peace on Christmas.
At about 5 o'clock on Christmas Day I started to prepare the soup. You know how food show hosts or cookbooks remind you to read a recipe through before you make it? Well, I didn't do that with this recipe. I wasn't prepared for (1) due to the fact I had never browned 8 cups of onions before the amount of time it would take to brown them and (2) since my recipe printed on two pages I didn't see that after I had browned the onions and let them simmer for 30 minutes that there was an additional 90 minutes of cooking time. OOOPS! My husband kept coming into the kitchen asking "When are we going to eat - midnight?" Finally, around 9 pm, I told him dinner was ready. He sat down at the table, inhaled the aroma and said "Ahhhh - midnight soup."
Aside from my own time SNAFU's the soup was fantastic! When my mother came to visit in February I actually made the soup again - started earlier in the day this time - and she said it was the best French Onion Soup she had ever had in her life. So, thank you Nancy for sharing your tradition with me and I am honored to share this recipe with others. Make the soup - you will not be disappointed. Just realize before you start making it that it isn't a thirty minute meal!
Nancy's Yummy French Onion Soup
1/2 stick butter (margarine)
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2-1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
8 cups homemade beef stock, or good quality store bought stock (not broth)
1/4 cup Cognac, or other good brandy
1 cup dry white wine (or whatever kind of wine you like to drink)
8 (1/2-inch) thick slices of French bread, toasted
3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyere
Heat butter and oil in a heavy stockpot over moderate heat. When butter has melted, stir in onions, cover, and cook slowly for about ten minutes. Blend in salt and sugar and increase the heat to medium high, allowing the onions to brown ~ stir frequently to avoid burning them! Let them turn a deep, walnut color. Simmer on low for 25-30 minutes, even a little longer to make sure the onions are well cooked (add a wee bit of stock if needed to keep the onions moist).
Sprinkle flour and cook slowly, stirring for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a moment, then whisk in 2-cups of hot beef stock. When well blended, bring to simmer, adding the rest of the stock, Cognac and wine. (You may substitute red burgundy and port wine, or sherry, if you prefer this taste to Cognac.)
Cover loosely and simmer very slowly 1 ½ hours, adding a little water if the liquid rescues too much. Taste for seasoning.
Divide the soup among four ovenproof bowls. Add just a wee bit more sherry or Cognac to each bowl of soup, stir slightly. Arrange the toasted French bread on top of soup and sprinkle generously with grated cheese ~ Gruyere or Swiss if you can’t find Gruyere.
Place bowls on cookie sheet and set under a preheated broiler until the cheese melts and forms a crust over the top of the bowls.
Serve immediately with a nice fresh salad and this makes a wonderful meal.