December 8, 2012 by athenahm
I love French onion soup. I really, really love it. When I was a kid, my mom and I would go
out to eat, and the place we always went did it soooooo well. Those were some of the best times of my childhood. Unfortunately, the place stopped serving awesome food and
turned into a cookie cutter chain with over-priced sub-par fare, and I was left in the dark for years. Sadface.
NO SOUP FOR YOU, ATHENA.
Once I grew up, I began looking up recipes for it, because my life seemed empty, now. It’s the little things, you know? So, I must have have gone through 50 different recipes before I developed a keen enough sense of what I liked and what was close enough to traditional French onion soup to appease my sense of food traditionalism(Is that a word? Meh, it is, now). So, this is my take on a timeless classic, directly out of my own personal memory lane.
Athena’s French Onion Soup
Preheat to 350 degrees. This makes quite a bit, about 9-10 servings.
To me, the best part of the soup is the bread and cheese. For this reason, I used an excessive amount of both. You are more than welcome to add or subtract from those quantities, or really any of the quantities in this recipe. That is the wonderful thing about soup, you can make it however you want it, and you almost can’t mess it up. Keep in mind, though: This recipe is the direct result of years of tinkering. I’m an expert. You should listen to me.
2 lbs stew meat(optional, but add another box of broth if you do not use the meat)
2-3 large onions, cut into 3/4 inch(ish) strips
1/4 c butter (plus 1/8 c melted butter for brushing the bread with)
1/2 c dry red wine(your choice, it’s for cooking, so you don’t have to go fancy, here)
2 boxes or 3 cans of beef broth
1 cup water
2 loaves of French or Italian bread, cubed
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb. sliced or shredded gruyere, or similar cheese (I use a German swiss cheese, but I swear, it’s just like gruyere)
salt, fresh ground pepper, and garlic powder to taste
Begin by sauteing the onions in the 1/4 cup butter in a large pot, I used my handy-dandy stock pot. Once the onions are almost transparent, add the stew meat and brown.
Once your onions are completely transparent, we add a few very important components. In my own, personal worldview, you cannot call it French food if it does not have butter, alcohol, or very high quality cheese. This dish is a perfect interpretation of my favorite things about France. Pour in your wine, and let it reduce for about 10 minutes.
Now, add your garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Do what you feel, here. Just remember that the broth and cheese has enough sodium to make you blow up like a balloon, so pour at your own risk. Speaking of broth, you can go ahead and add that, now, and the water. Cover that shit, and let it simmer on medium-low while you work with your bread.
I use my baking stones for just about everything I possibly can, and toasting the bread is no exception. Chop it up and spread it evenly over your baking vessel of choice. I had to use both of my stones, because I was feeding a small, voracious army.
To quote the lovely and hilarious Hannah Hart, “Butter Yo Shit”. Brush each piece of bread with a ‘lil bit of that melted butter. Then stick it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, just until it is nice and golden brown-like. The reason we do this is because the bread is supposed to be saturated when you are enjoying your soup, not soggy. No one likes soggy bread.
Now, you can do one of two things. As I said, I was cooking for a shipload of people, some being very small, hungry children. Because of this, I did not go all fancy and broil the cheese in individual, oven-safe bowls. Instead, I transferred my soup into a very large baking pan.
Cover your soup with the toast. Sprinkle the mozzarella over it, then cover with your gruyere/swiss/WTFever.
Next time, we will have some fun with baking and tequila, so stay tuned, kids! Mwah! Mwah! You’re my favorite for sticking with me this far.