People who love to eat are always the best people. ~ Julia Child
Today our hero, Julia Child, would have been 100 years old. In honor, we thought we’d share a favorite recipe. Jess loves to make this classic, cheese-topped onion soup. Come in to Carry Out Cafe to taste it sometime, or click on the link below to follow the video and create it yourself. Bon Appétit!
Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée (Onion Soup Gratinéed with Cheese)
Introducing this recipe in The French Chef Cookbook, Child writes, “Soupe à l’oignon, a large bowl of it bubbling under a brown crust of cheese, is practically a meal in itself. Serve it after a football game, at a Sunday night supper, or as a midnight snack. Its rich aroma, wonderful flavor and savor, have made French onion soup a word favorite.” Given that this was the early 60s, she also suggested that by adding wine, a bay leaf, and a pinch of thyme, readers could give a little French flair even to canned or dehydrated onion soup. And while encouraging readers to start with a homemade beef bouillon–“beef bones and shank meat simmered for several hours with the usual carrots, onions, celery, seasonings, and herbs”–she also acknowledged that canned bouillon could be used instead, “if your own bouillon is lacking.”
Adapted from The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child.
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5-6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (1 1/2 lbs)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts hot beef bouillon (if using canned bouillon, dilute with 2 cups of water)
1 cup red or white wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon sage
Salt and pepper to taste
For Croûtes and Cheese Topping:
1 sweet baguette
Olive oil or melted butter
1/4 cup cognac, optional
1 small (2-inch) onion or shallot, peeled
A 2-ounce piece Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss and Parmesan cheese, mixed
Melt the butter and oil in a large, deep saucepan; add the onions and stir to coat with the butter. Cover the pan and cook over moderately low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and translucent.
Uncover the pan, raise heat to medium high, and stir in the salt and sugar. (Sugar, by caramelizing, helps onions to brown.) Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions have turned an even deep golden brown.
Lower heat to medium, stir in flour, and add a bit more butter if flour does not absorb into a paste with the onions. Cook, stirring continually, for about 2 minutes to brown flour lightly.
In a separate pot, heat bouillon. Pour about a cup of hot bouillon into onion mixture, whisking to combine. Add the rest of the bouillon and the wine, bay and sage, and bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly for 30-40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
While soup is simmering, make the croûtes. Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut bread into slices 1 inch thick, paint lightly with oil or butter and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until beginning to brown lightly; turn slices and brown lightly for 15-20 minutes on the other side. Remove croûtes from oven. Turn oven up to 350°F.
Add the optional cognac and grate in the onion. Pour the hot soup into a serving casserole, baking dish, or into individual oven-proof bowls. Shave the 2-ounce piece of cheese into fine slivers and strew over the soup.
Place a closely packed layer of croûtes over the top of the soup and spread on the grated cheese, covering the croûtes completely. (If using individual bowls, top each bowl with one or two croutes as needed to cover the top of soup. Divide the cheese between the bowls.) Sprinkle a tablespoon of oil or butter over the cheese, and set soup on the middle rack of the oven. (If using individual bowls, place bowls on a baking sheet.) Bake for about 30 minutes, until soup is bubbling slowly and cheese has melted.
Meanwhile, preheat your broiler. Just before serving, run the soup under the broiler for a moment to brown the cheese lightly. Pass the remaining croûtes in a bread tray along with the soup. Enjoy!