Sunday, January 29, 2012

French Onion Soup

I remember the exact moment that I fell in love with french onion soup. I was 9 years old on vacation with my family to Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was a great trip, in general, we rode bikes along the beach, learned how to dig up conch shells, built racecars in the sand, and ate at some magnificent restaurants.

It was at one of these great restaurants where I discovered the best french onion soup, ever. If you ever get out that direction, Cafe at Wexford is fantastic, and the french onion soup is the one that won over my heart forever. Since then I have been comparing every french onion soup to that one. Most are good, many are great, and a few have come close to matching the perfection, but none just yet.

I have not given up on my quest to find one just as good as that first french onion soup. So recently I figured maybe I can make one that is just as good. I don't know that I'm quite there, yet, but either way this recipe is a keeper.

French Onion Soup
4 Tbl. Butter
1 Large Sweet Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 Large White Onions, thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
42 oz. Low Sodium Beef Broth
28 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup Red Wine (approximate)
2-3 Tbl. Worcestershire Sauce
4 Sprigs Fresh Parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme (+ another 2 Tbl. chopped)
1-2 bay leafs
2 Tbl. Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Thickly sliced French Bread
Sliced Gruyere cheese for melting on top
Shredded Asiago cheese for melting on top

In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the thinly sliced onions and the garlic. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft and caramelized. They almost start falling apart at this point (yum!).

Add in the beef and chicken broth, red wine, and worcestershire into the pot. I usually only add about half of the wine and Worcestershire now, because I like to add in some here and some there as I taste as I go. Allows me to get it just like I like it! Add in the bundle of parsley, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs, whole (you'll fish them out later). Simmer this over medium heat for about 20 min.

Remove the whole sprigs of herbs and add about another 2 Tbl. of fresh chopped thyme and stir in. Reduce the heat and add in the balsamic vinegar (usually only 1 Tbl. at a time, to see how the flavor is doing.) Now you can add salt and pepper to taste, also. A tip I learned the hard way: you never want to add salt until you are almost done cooking the soup. If you add it to your liking, and then continue cooking it down and reducing liquid off, it will end up much more concentrated and will taste a lot saltier than you anticipated.

Cut up your french bread and cheese (and eat a little for an appetizer!) Toast the french bread on both sides under a broiler, or in a toaster oven. Fill your oven safe bowls or crocks with hot soup, top with toasty bread, sliced Gruyere and Asiago cheese. Eeat any cheese that falls onto the counter, and place the bowls under the broiler until the top is melted, golden, bubbly, toasty, and perfect.

Devour immediately... but to avoid burning your tongue, I guess you should wait a minute before putting a huge cheesy chunk in your mouth. I'm not a patient person, though... so I burn my tongue nearly every time...WORTH IT!

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