French Onion Soup

By Joell Folger

“S” Words

Let’s take a minute to think about words starting with the letter “S”. Spring, snow and soup come to mind. That about sums up a week in March. This past week, the mountains were gifted with a crazy spring snowstorm. {thanks Ullr!} Nothing warms the soul on the path to spring like a hearty bowl of soothing soup.

Lately, French Onion soup is having a moment on our private chef dinner menus. And why not, this simple but decadent soup is as comforting as they come. With layers of flavor, literally and tastefully, not much is more satisfying than this soup.

For this recipe, I enlisted the help of my chef husband, John. Together, with a bag of onions and a pantry of staples, we set to work on cooking this recipe from allrecipes.

The recipe is simple and classic. Following it, we turned out a brilliantly delicious soup. The broth had a body to it, the onions were sweet and soft, the cheese blend gave it that nudge of savory overload. We topped the soup with a combination of gruyère/cheddar cheese. The cheeses were blended and aged together. The cheddar added a subtle creaminess without taking away from the punchiness of the gruyère. As John went the traditional route with fresh bread topping his soup, I had to toast mine first. I’m not a fan of soggy things, while somehow in this soup, it is tolerable. The toasted bread added additional layers of flavors bringing a smoky - earthy flavor to the soup. Combined with the creaminess of the cheese, perfection. Either way, the bread still broke down contributing to the hearty body of the soup.

While we enjoyed the recipe as it is, a recipe is a guide. Next time, we would do some things differently, like adding a shallot or two. The big changes would be to how the onions are prepared and the amount of beef stock. These are our personal preferences to customize an already successful recipe. I had halved the onions and sliced the two chunks. As soon as I had the onions sliced and in the pot, John mentioned an alternative to slices. John’s thought was to cube them to be more spoon friendly, not dripping down your chin. I like the idea of both. After a long conversation, yes, we compromised on a combination of cubed and sliced onions, but quartered prior to slicing. The texture difference of the two cutting styles would still get us to where we wanted the broth to be, hearty with a body.

The next adjustment that I would make is to the amount of beef stock. The recipe called for 5 cups. For me, 4 cups of broth and 1 cup of water would have been just fine. At the start of the simmering process, the soup still had a heavy beef flavor to it. As the simmering process continued, the onions released their sugars and the sweet savory flavors of the onion took over. I was relieved about that, whew!

Our soup was delicious and satisfying. From the top of the melted cheese to the bottom of the oniony bowl, every bite warmed the senses. This kitchen episode was a success, sometimes serious or silly, we made a soothing pot of soup. As spring snow continues to swirl, chances of us crafting this soup are quite possible.



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