French onion soup is one recipe all foodies should be ready to whip up.
A limited ingredient list means that preparing French onion soup comes down to deriving as much flavor as possible out of each ingredient.
Onions - The essence French onion soup's delicate flavor comes, of course, from the onions. Red or white can be used. Cooking them slowly will bring out the most flavors.
Broth - The broth can be made with beef or chicken stock, or a combination of both.
Bread - Crumbled or sliced French or Italian bread works well, as do croutons made with either.
Fromage - The cheese should be meltable and from France, ideally from the pressed cheese families. Fromages such as Fol Epi, Emmental and Beaufort are ideal choices.
Start by chopping and placing your onions in a pan over a medium heat and cooking for about 30-40 minutes.
It's important to stir frequently and cook the onions slow. The key is to allow the flavors to come out, which will happen as the onions begin to brown and carmelize. Add chopped garlic (to taste) or a dash of sugar during this process to add flavor and texture.
A few teaspoons of olive oil or butter will help the browning process. Garlic, bay leaf, thyme, pepper and salt can be added to taste. Dashes of vermouth, dry white wine or cognac can also be added near the end of the process to add extra flavor.
As the onions finish, combine with the broth and let all of the flavors mix together.
While beef stock is the traditional choice, chicken stock can be used as well. Once the broth is added, continue cooking the mixture until the desired thickness is created.
Adding cheese and bread is the final, crucial step. Cheese can be grated or sliced and layered on top of the broth (with crumpled bread or croutons) where it will melt on contact. Bread can be sliced and broiled (with cheese on the top) and then added onto the broth as well. For a truly striking presentation, place the onions and broth mixture in oven safe bowls with the bread and cheese on top, and then broil in an oven – a dome of golden cheese will form over each bowl!
Fromages can be mixed and matched, so don't be afraid to add your own favorite to your soup. Etorki, Fol Epi, Morbier, Raclette, Beaufort and other pressed cheeses will work splendidly with your French onion soup.