Tuesday, April 24, 2012

American French Onion Soup – Easy Just Got Easier

French onion soup is a very easy recipe. So, it’s a little ironic that this American French onion soup is an attempt to make things even easier. Then again, taking ideas that don’t need improving, and changing them anyway, is a time-honored American tradition.

Instead of going “French” on the onions, and cutting thin slices, we’re doing more of an extra large dice. I like the flavor and texture this cut provides, and there’s no danger of being chin-slapped by a long, steaming strand of onion. 

To make the caramelizing step a bit easier, we’re going to use the oven. You can just toss the onions in, stir it once in a while, and wait for them to brown. You don’t have to stand there and watch as closely as you would on the stovetop, and since the oven is blasting the pan with heat from all sides, you get a nice even color. 

The last Americanization is a departure from the classic gruyere cheese. My love for gruyere is borderline inappropriate, but keeping with the theme, I decided to go with a 50/50 blend of extra-sharp New York cheddar and mild Monterey Jack. It was wonderful, and a nice change of pace. 

Regarding the ominous vinegar warning in the video – I think a little touch of sherry vinegar really balances the flavors perfectly, but like salt, everyone’s palate is different. So, if you haven’t used it before, it may be a better to just add the vinegar, to taste, to the finished soup. Drip a little in, taste, and adjust. 

Anyway, spring weather means plenty of cool, rainy days, and what better way to enjoy those than with a nice bowl of onion soup? Whether American, French, or some other yet-to-be-discovered cultural variation, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy! 

Ingredients for about 2 1/2 quarts of soup:
6 large yellow onions, cut in large dice
1/2 stick unsalted butter salt and pepper to taste
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 or 2 tsps sherry vinegar, or to taste
3 tbsps dry sherry wine (do NOT use “cooking wine”)
4 cups high-quality beef broth
4 cups high-quality chicken broth
buttered croutons
shredded extra-sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese (you’ll need about 1/3 cup per bowl)

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