French Onion Soup – Ode To Bastille Day

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In honor of Bastille Day on the 14th July, and out of my pure gluttonous craving, I thought, French onion soup would be a fitting cast member for the part. When I think Bastille Day, I think yummy French food, which is hardly surprising given that I am a total French enthusiast. Apart from the history, (the important/boring stuff, well to me at least) which is of course steeped in the beginnings of the French Revolution. French food has its own sense of pride and glory on this day. From beef bourguignon to quiche Lorraine, it all has an important role to play. Today I have chosen French onion soup, and I suppose it really needs no introduction. However, sometimes I do feel like this soup, which came from humble origins, needs just a small trumpet intro …

The deep, sweet oniony flavor is ever so familiar, with a gentle hint of garlic and bay that flow easily into the belligerent onion soup. Now, don’t get me wrong the soup is surprisingly subtle and does not have any pungent onion flavor. Which is due to the slow and long cooking of the onions.

Then, there is the crunchy bread that is encrusted with the sharp gruyere cheese and put under the grill until it is gooey, crispy and resembles something of a gruyere cheese volcano, with a secret mound of rich, beefy onion soup hidden under it’s bubbly surface. This soup is the perfect winter companion. I can promise you that you will not regret making this and neither will your taste buds. I like to serve it with a crunchy green salad with extra bread to slop up all the onion juices. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients – Makes 4 servings

  • 8 medium yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 liter low-sodium beef stock – I used the pre made organic beef stock from woolies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cup white wine or sherry
  • 2 cups cubed bread (French or sourdough) you can also have slices of bread if you prefer.
  • 400g of grated Gruyere cheese
  • A box of tissues to wipe the onion tears

Recipe –

  • Begin by slicing the onions. Cut the ends off and peel the skin. Then, with a sharp knife, cut the onion into ½ cm slices. I used my food processor with the large slicing attachment.
  • When the onions are cut, begin melting the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  • When the butter is melted, add the onions and toss them with the salt

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  • Cook the onions very slowly on a medium low heat until soft and caramel in colour. This can take 60 min even longer if you have the time. (The longer the better)

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  • Meanwhile, bring the beef stock to a simmer with the bay leaf, and crushed garlic clove. Add the white wine and simmer for about 10 minutes. Keep warm until you are ready to add the onions.
  • When the onions are done, add them to the beef stock. Bring the stock back to a simmer.

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  • Move the oven rack up, and preheat the grill
  • Divide the soup into 4 oven-safe crocks or bowls. Top the soup with the croutons and the grated cheese.
  • Place under the grill until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Watch closely so the cheese doesn’t burn.
  • Serve immediately with a green salad, extra bread and a nice glass of red or white wine.

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