French-ish Onion Soup


French Onion Soup, basically

French Onion Soup, basically

It was a rough day. Aside from being sort of sick, I had brought a bunch of homemade ravioli filled with wild mushrooms I had picked myself to work and put them into the wrong refrigerator, so they got thrown away. Oops. Guess I’m not going to that potluck. My boss, who is wonderful, felt terrible that it had happened and apologized with some nice South African wine and three-peppercorn marinated goat cheese and crispy cheese straws for me to take home for dinner. It was very sweet.

Being as I was, sort of sickly, I wanted soup desperately badly. Upon consulting with my refrigerator (that’s what I do) I decided I had most of the necessary ingredients for a French onion soup. This, said like a person whose made one before (I hadn’t). I knew where to look for help though. Those ever so pretty yet rarely used Donna Hay books my mother had given me for a long ago birthday or some such. Sure enough, in Modern Classics 1 was an excellent recipe to use as a guide. I sauteed 1 red onion, 1 white onion and half a yellow onion (ahh, the wonders of using what you’ve got) with a ton of butter. Let me repeat my key item here. A LOT of butter. I added a little garlic (not in Hay’s version), some thyme and covered it on the heat for about half an hour. Once my onions were golden and smelled amazing, I added about half a cup of flour, just enough to absorb any liquid left in the pan, stirring as I did so. With the onions still in the pan, I deglazed with a shot of brandy. At this point, I committed a cardinal sin of French onion soup–I added a can of chicken stock. But hear me out! Without veal stock, I needed that velvety rich stock, but the duck stock, is too ducky to use en masse, so I started with a layer of the canned chicken stock, then added about a cup of the duck stock. One interesting aspect of the recipe, which I hadn’t expected was the addition of mustard, I used spicy brown. I left it to simmer for 15 minutes, as Ms. Hay suggested, but upon returning, it lacked flavor and I began adding tons of salt and pepper. Ah, that pair can solve any problem.

Without crusty French bread to top it with, I cut a piece of whole wheat sandwich bread into a circle, burying the scraps in the bottom of the bowl, then ladling in the soup, topped by the circle of bread and a hefty grating of parmesan cheese. 5 minutes under the broiler and a beautiful bowl of French-ish  onion soup. A wonderful comfort food for a cruddy day.


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