The Weekend Gourmet: #SundaySupper New Year's Bucket List...Featuring Freaking Good French Onion Soup! F

Sunday, January 6, 2013

#SundaySupper New Year's Bucket List...Featuring Freaking Good French Onion Soup!

One of my favorite cold-weather foods is French onion soup. Seriously...what’s not to love about sweet caramelized onions simmered in a rich stock, then topped with toasted bread and melted cheese? I've made French onion soup at home one time…I had hoped to blog about it, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the end result. It was missing that special “oomph” that a perfect bowl of French onion soup needs. I vowed to find my perfect version and make it again, and this week’s #SundaySupper New Year's Bucket List theme provided me the perfect opportunity! I asked myself what was the best French onion soup I ever tasted, and it was a no-brainer. We had the most amazing crock of cheesy-good French onion soup at Balthazar in New York a few years ago. Michael and I ordered a bowl to share for an appetizer, and proceeded to play a game of “dueling spoons” to get the last bite. The broth had a rich depth of flavor, and the cheese wasn’t so gooey that it made a huge mess.

I was thrilled when I received a copy of the Balthazar cookbook...and that it contained their recipe for French Onion Soup Gratinee. The secret to their soup’s rich flavor are caramelized onions, wine in the broth, freshly grated gruyere cheese…and a bit of port added to the pot just before each bowl is assembled. We’ve had a stressful week at Casa Garcia, and this soup was the perfect prescription! Michael and I have been fighting off post-holiday sniffles and coughs, and our older cat Lucy came down with a severe inner-ear infection and resulting vertigo. Last weekend, she was in the pet hospital overnight on IV meds and has been very disoriented all week. She’s able to walk a bit now without falling over…and she’s eating and drinking…but only after a few days of syringe feeding and twice-daily meds. We needed comfort food…and this soup was just the ticket on a chilly Texas evening!

We lit the fireplace and settled in for crocks of this delicious and comforting soup. I made a few minor tweaks to Balthazar’s recipe: I used a combo of beef and chicken stock and added 2 beef bouillon cubes for added richness. I also used red wine instead of white wine in the stock -- it's what I had opened. Finally, I added two slices of round provolone picante on top of each bowl for presentation. I figured a little extra cheese couldn't hurt! This soup does take a bit of time to prepare in order to properly caramelize the onions. However, most of the cooking time is hands-off. This recipe went from chopping the onions to ready-to-eat in about 1.5 hours. I made a half batch of the recipe, which makes 3-4 bowls of soup. Feel free to double the ingredients if you have a bigger crowd to feed.

Freaking Good French Onion Soup
adapted from The Balthazar Cookbook 
Step 1: Slice two medium yellow onions in half through the root end, and slice each half in to 1/4-inch slices. Heat 3 tbs. olive oil in a Dutch over over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they turn golden and are very soft -- about 30 minutes. Give them a stir ever few minutes to make sure they don't burn! Then, add the following ingredients to the pot: 1 tbs. butter, 1 grated garlic clove, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, and 1 bay leave. Stir to combine and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently for even cooking. The pictures below show the progression of coloring during the cooking process.
Step 2: Add 1/2 cup red wine to the pot and raise heat to high. Bring to boil and reduce the wine in half -- this takes about 3-5 minutes.  Then, add 3 cups beef stock, 2 cups chicken stock, and two beef bouillon cubes to the pan. Bring to a boil, then cover. Lower heat to med-low and simmer for 45 minutes. At the very end, add 1/4 cup port to the pot and give a quick stir to combine. 
Step 3: Turn on broiler. Ladle the soup into 3-4 oven-safe bowls or crocks and place on a large baking sheet. Top each bowl of soup with a thick slice of toasted country white bread. Top the bread with 1/3 cup of shredded gruyere cheese and two round slices of provolone picante. Broil for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Keep a close watch...cheese can go from brown to burnt very quickly!
Verdict: Success…this pot of French onion soup is truly blog-worthy! This hearty soup is a comforting meal in a bowl: rich stock, sweetly caramelized onions, toasty bread, and nutty gruyere combine to make the quintessential French onion soup. The little bit of port added at the end is truly the secret to this soup's rich depth of flavor. It's that little "something" that you can't put your finger on...but you know it's lingering in the background. This soup is essentially a meal in a bowl, but you can add a sandwich or simple salad on the side if you like. This soup tasted just like what we enjoyed at Balthazar – minus the marital spoon fight at the end!

Make sure to join us for a lively #SundaySupper Twitter chat this evening at 600 CST. We'll be discussing foods on our culinary bucket list for 2013...and how we have or will conquer them. What food or recipe is on YOUR bucket list for 2013? Leave me a comment below letting me know...and go visit my fellow #SundaySupper bloggers. They're marking recipes off their personal culinary bucket lists today too, and the recipes are fabulous!

This Week’s Sunday Supper Recipes:

Sunday Supper Specialty Breads:

Sunday Supper Main Dishes:

Sunday Supper Desserts and Snacks:


49 comments:

  1. Already bookmarked. I've been wanting to make French onion soup for the longest time and have been searching for a great recipe. I'm trying yours first.

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    1. This is really good, but the key to the rich flavor is to make sure to simmer it for the full 45 minutes. If you have the time, an hour is even better IMO!

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  2. Oh mercy! This is one of my favorites! Thanks so much for sharing!

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    1. This is going to be my go-to recipe! That port at the end is fabulous!!

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  3. I've never eaten French onion soup. Mostly because I can't figure out how to eat it without being an utter mess!! :)

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    1. The cheese can get messy...but that's part of the fun! It's not a good "first date" food for sure ;)...

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  4. Oh my goodness; french onion soup is one of my favorites. So rich and delicious...and you have to love the gooey cheese!!!

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    1. It's one of my favorites too...the gruyere and provolone is a good combo. It's also less stringy and easier to eat than most restaurants, which use really gooey mozzarella.

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  5. Success! This is one of my favorite soups! Yours looks BEE-YOU-TEE-FUL!

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    1. It's the port...it's that special something that makes this over-the-top good!!!

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  6. I've been sitting on a French Onion Soup recipe for years and am dying to try it and you may have just finally motivated me. Your recipe turned out fabulous and looks SO good! Congrats on crossing it off the bucket list!

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    1. One big "must" is to be patient and let the onions get nice and caramelized...that concentrates the flavors. Give it a full 30 minutes and stir every 3-4 minutes.

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  7. I would go crazy for this soup, Wendy...it looks PERFECT!

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    1. It is pretty darn good...I can't wait to make it again now that I made a batch that tastes really good!!

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  8. I love Balthazar and especially their french onion soup. Nice job and great to see a couple of the secrets like caramelized onions and the port added at the end.

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    1. This really is a great soup!!! We had a fabulous date night on a trip to New York three years ago -- a classical performance at Carnegie Hall, then a lovely late dinner at Balthazar. Sigh...

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  9. Hi Wendy! Thanks for linking up this delicious soup on my blog! I haven't made French Onion in ages.... yours looks fab! Glad your kitty is feeling better - poor little thing!

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    1. Thanks, Tracy...she's been pretty sick, but she seems to be on the mend nicely now!

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  10. Wendy, this soup looks amazing!! The bread in it, oh man, does look good! I'm bookmarking this recipe!!

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    1. This is a great dish for a lazy Sunday afternoon...the longer it simmers, the more concentrated the flavors would be.

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  11. Love me French Onion Soup! I went to Switzerland as a kid and was still a very picky eater, thank goodness for onion soup, survived my way through that trip with it!

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    1. I'm so glad that I tried this recipe and can now make this soup for us at home! It's really pretty economical to make...the cheese is the only really pricy ingredient.

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  12. A good french onion soup is such a great experience food-wise, and this one has all the right things, caramelized onions and wine. The addition of port sounds absolutely perfect! I´m pinning this one. Can´t go wrong with Balthazar.

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    1. The port in the end is the key to this soup...promise!! Balthazar is one of our favorite places we've eaten in New York...reasonable prices and really fabulous food!

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  13. So awesome, my stepbrother's the biggest onion soup fan!

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    1. I love it too! It's so filling and warming on a chilly day!!

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  14. I adore french onion soup and yours looks so good!!

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    1. It's a great recipe...give it a try! If you're really hungry, croque monsieur makes a great partner for this dish!

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  15. Always loved French onion soup & this one looks gourmet !!! Can't wait to try this :)

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    1. I promise that it's the best I've had...great recipe!

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  16. I love French Onion Soup and your recipe looks just fabulous! Oh my goodness and it even has Port... being Portuguese I think a splash of Port makes everything better!

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    1. It adds a bit of brightness since the red wine cooks down during the simmer process. It's just that little something that people can't put their finger on as they taste the soup...subtle, but definitely there!

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  17. I'm salivating right now! (I found you through Tracy's Living Cookbook.)

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    1. Welcome...it's good to have you, and hope you won't be a stranger! Give this soup a try...it's not hard, just takes a pocket of time for it to cook.

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    1. Thanks...give this soup a try! It's simple to make...just allot a bit of time for cooking the onions and then simmering the soup.

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  19. French Onion soup is such a delicioius, hearty soup. I love the toasted bread underneath the bubbly cheese. Yours looks amazing!

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  20. French Onion Soup is one of my favorites too. I've used beer in mine, but would love to try it with the red wine! Yours sounds wonderful.

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  21. Is there anything better than comforting french onion soup? I'll have to try this soon - I never made it from scratch!

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  22. YUMMY!! I am making this as soon as I get home from my cruise next week! Delicious.

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  23. you'll have to make this for levi. he loves french onion soup!

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  24. Freaking good is right! This soup looks amazing.

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  25. Wendy, this soup looks so amazing! Every element on its own is delicious and then you add it all together...heaven! I hope you, Michael and Lucy are all feeling better. At least you had this flavourful, hot, cheesy soup to enjoy.

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  26. I love a good cheesy french onion soup and yours looks to die for. Hope you, hubby and your cat are all feeling better soon.

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  27. Love this! French onion soup is also on my list b/c my Husband loves it! Thanks for inspiring me on this one! I had no idea where to start! Beautiful! yum!

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  28. French onion soup is my all-time favorite, though mine has always lacked oomph! Methinks it's time to try this recipe--it looks perfect!

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  29. Your soup looks fantastic, Wendy!

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  30. My husbands favorite soup is French Onion Soup. I actually made it last week, but didn't have the port. He said the broth wasn't as full as others he has had, next time I will have to add that!

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  31. Oh Yes!!! I love french onion soup. I made it once but I didn't(don't) have the patience to let the onions carmalize so it was just ok but I need to try to make it again. Yummy! Looks great!

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