Soupe A L’oignon: That’s French For Delicious!

Oh gosh, where do I begin? I love French onion soup. It was love at first taste. Onions, croutons, and Swiss cheese are put into a little pot of steaming-hot goodness. I always begin by battling the mountain of bubbling cheese melted over top, trying to get a spoonful to my mouth without cheese strings hanging down my chin. (French onion cheese beard, not a good look.) Once I’ve made a path through the cheese and bread, it’s a mix of eating soup, onions, bread, and cheese until it’s all gone.

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“You will find this to be a more oniony soup than the usual kind but, as the cross old lady said when a stranger told her that her slip was showing, “I like it that way.”  ~Margaret Yardley Potter

I don’t know why it took me so long to think of trying to create this at home, but I finally did. And guess what, IT’S SUPER EASY!

Onion soups have been popular since…forever. They’ve been said to have been made as far back as in ancient Roman times. Onions were readily available, and easy to grow. Today, you can buy a whole bag of onions for two bucks! I read, over and over again, that the key to an amazing onion soup is TIME. The longer you cook your onions, the sweeter and more flavourful your soup will be. I found a ton of recipes with onion cooking times ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours. So I killed two birds with one stone: let the onions cook while I took a nice long bubble bath. 🙂 P.S. You’re going to smell onions…everywhere…but it’s going to be wonderful!

I love using recipes that can easily be made vegetarian/vegan friendly or gluten-free. Classic French onion soup is made using beef broth or a combination of both chicken broth and beef broth (each made on its own, and then combined). There is flour, bread, and cheese in this recipe. However, I’ve noted substitutions you can make for a few of the ingredients to make this soup work for you.

French Onion Soup

* I used long cooking times, which makes for a really wonderful soup. However, this can be done in less time. If you’re pressed for time, you can experiment with cooking the onions for less time, and you can cut the soup-simmering time as well. But taking the extra time is definitely worth the wait. Your soup will taste amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of onions (I bought a 3lb bag at the store)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (3/4 of a stick) (Vegan version: use olive oil or vegan butter/margarine)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 cups beef broth (Vegan/vegetarian version: use veggie broth)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (Gluten-free version: use potato flour or other flour of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
  • French baguette (or bread of choice…I used an old baguette that had gotten kind of hard.) (Gluten-free version: use gluten-free bread)
  • Swiss or Gruyere cheese (or both) (Vegan version: skip the cheese or try using vegan cheese)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

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1. Peel onions and thinly slice, about 1/8-inch thick.

2. Melt butter in a large stockpot. Add onions and cook on low heat, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours. The long cooking time make the onions mellow and sweet and give your soup more flavour.

3. Stir in pepper, paprika, and bay leaf. Saute for about 10 minutes.

4. Add flour to onions and stir until mixed well.

5. Pour the beef broth and wine into the pot. Add salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil.

6. Reduce heat and simmer slowly for about 2 hours. Have a little taste and add more salt or pepper, if needed.

The soup part is done! Have some right away or refrigerate overnight and serve tomorrow!

I ladled my soup into 1 cup servings and froze them in the freezer for a convenient way to have a bowl whenever I like. 🙂

Serving French Onion Soup:

*Warm it up before you pour into the bowls. I served my soup right after I had made it, so it was still hot. I don’t know if 5 minutes under the broiler will completely heat up the soup while the cheese is melting. This way you can be sure your soup will be steaming hot.

1. Pour your soup into ovenproof crocks or bowls. There are the classic French onion soup bowls with the little arms, but anything ovenproof will do. The only things I had that were the right size were ramekins, so I used those.

2. (Adding the parmesan is optional. I happened to have a bit in the fridge, so I sprinkled it over my soup for some extra cheesiness.)

3. Top with a slice of toasted bread or croutons. Slice some bread, brush with olive oil (can sprinkle with sea salt, maybe add some garlic) and toast in the oven. I used a baguette from two nights before that had hardened. This soup is a great way to use up old bread. 🙂

*If you’re doing a vegan version without cheese, this is where it ends… the soup is delicious on it’s own or topped with a yummy slice of toasted bread. 🙂

4. Now for the cheese. Sprinkle grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese, or a mixture of both, over your bowl of soup. Be generous! The more cheese, the yummier.

5. Stick your bowls in the oven under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts and starts to bubble.

Be careful taking the bowls out of the oven.

Get out your spoons, and enjoy!!! xx

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