Saturday, November 03, 2007

Five Onion Soup

I love Onion Soup. It's one of the easiest, most satisfying soups you can make. It is, in my honest opinion, the quintessential definition of "comfort food".

There is something seductive, almost slutty, about the aroma of different types of onions slowly cooking down in olive oil and clarified butter. There is something so wrong, but so right, about eating that much cheese on top of that much bread on top of that much beef stock on top of -you guessed it- that massive pile of onions.

Too many people, unfortunately, equate Onion Soup with Salt. I love salt, in fact - I eat lots of food with it! For something like this though, you really want that onion flavor to jump out, kick you in the nuts and yell: "SURPRISE!"

So, here it is... My take on Five Onion Soup.

3 small onions, cut in half then quartered
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 really big Leek, sliced into rounds - green ends discarded
2 Shallots, sliced thin
5 cloves Garlic, smashed

Olive Oil
1 heaping Tablespoon Clarified Butter (Optional)
2 T Flour
1 Cup Whiskey (Jack Daniels, man...)
1 Qt Beef Stock (4 Cups)
2 Cups Water
1 t Pepper
1 T Herbs du Provence

1 Baguette, toasted and cut into large cubes
Shredded Gruyere

Start by heating the olive oil in a large stockpot. When hot, add the clarified butter and once melted add all of the onions and sweat briefly.
Add the Flour and stir to evenly coat the onions. Continue to saute the onions until they are nicely browned (NOT BURNT!) and cooked down.
Deglaze the pot with the Whiskey, scraping up the Fond which has no doubt accumulated on the bottom. Cook until the whiskey is nearly gone and soaked into the onions.
Add the beef stock, the water, pepper and Herbs du Provence. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 45 Minutes - skimming all the scum that comes to the top. (If you have too much of a boil going, the scummy foam will churn back into the soup.)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Pour the soup into an oven proof crock large enough to hold all of the liquid. Place all of the bread evenly across the soup so no liquid is exposed. Sprinkle the cheese all over until the bread is completely covered. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned.

Kerrie and I had this with some nice Red Table Wine and decent amount of time to waste. Lazy nights are always the best for something like this. Plenty of time to relax and pretend that I'm uninterested, unemployed and be completely happy with it.

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