Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Onion Soup

Woke up Saturday AM, chill in the air, wanted something warm and satisfying. OG called from NOLA a few times and I considered making a Cajun dish, but instead, as I was babysitting Lucy, opted for some onion soup. I have the Bouchon cookbook and Keller uses a whopping 8 lbs of onions for his soup, so I decided to create my take on 8lb onion soup...the rest of the ingredients are not MKs except for the simple satchet...
8 lbs sweet onions
4 oz unsalted butter
1 T salt
1 1/2 T AP flour
Sachet containing 12 peppercorns, 6 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves
2-32 oz boxes of Swanson's low sodium beef broth
1-32 oz box Swanson's 99% fat free chicken broth
1 cup red wine, I used a Cab from Sonoma
One baguette
Emmentaler cheese (The BILE-LOW near my house had no Gruyere or Fontina)
Mise en place: For the onions, I sliced off the ends and cut into halves and cut the core with a "V-cut" in the center of each half. Next remove the flat pieces and slice into 1/4 inch strips. For the remainder, I cut radially along the lines of the onion, then pulled apart to ensure there were no large chucks of onion. This is what 8 lbs of sliced onions looks like...

In my La Creuset 5 qt buffet casserole, I began by melting the butter over low heat. I made a diffuser by rolling up some aluminum foil. Then I added the onions and salt, which towered over and out of the casserole, but I was able to contain the huge mound under the lid. I cooked the onions covered stirring every 10 to 15 minutes for ~ 1 1/2 hours, then removed the lid. The onions had reduced by about 1/2 and there was a ton of water in the pan. I then turned the heat to medium-low to bring the liquid to a good bubble, but not boiling. The liquid began to evaporate/reduce, but the onions required stirring about every 10 minutes or the ones in contact with the pan would scorch. I continued cooking this way, while watching bad football on ESPN until the onions were deep brown and had reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. Then I refrigerated overnight.

The next day, I started by warming the onions in my regular dutch oven, and when the solidified butter had melted sifted the flour into the onion mixture. I then added all the liquids and the satchet and adjusted the heat for a brisk simmer. As the mixture cooked I skimmed any scum off the top about every 15 to 20 minutes. After about 1 1/2 hours the soup had reduced by about 1/4th and was finished.

To serve, I sliced the bread into ~ 1/2 inch pieces and baked in a 400 degree oven until cripsy and crouton like. I then filled large ramekins to about 1/2 inch from the top with soup, floated a few of the croutons and topped with a slice of cheese and finished with some grated cheese. It is important not have any of the crouton exposed as this will char under the broiler and taste awful. The ramekins were then placed on a baking sheet and under the broiler until the cheese was browned and bubbling ~ 2 minutes.

I served with a simple salad of bibb lettuce with a champagne vinegar, vinegarette and for a main course, some grouper sauted with slivered almonds and brown butter and simple boiled potatoes.

Of course I burned the hell out of my mouth on this soup, but I have been told by all that it was delicious. The soup was very sweet and I didn't think the store-bought broths affected badly whatsoever. I would make this 100 times over...it was good! Next time, I will just have it with a grilled cheese sandwich and will curtail my hunger until the temperature drops below magma!

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