I was worried that by the time I posted this recipe it would be summer weather and no one would want to hear about soup. But yes, its still dreary in Seattle. AND it’s not sweltering in Montreal yet. So I guess the timing is right afterall. Why Montreal, you say? Because this blog post is in honour of this Clown I ‘met’ recently, who lives and blogs there.
Blogging is a weird thing…and presents opportunities to virtually meet all kinds of people. And if you move from the foodie blogs to some of the humour/essayist types of blogs you come across some pretty interesting people, whose comments on other people’s blogs are just as entertaining as their posts. (Not that foodies aren’t an interesting lot of course, but the other bloggers I’m reading are much snarky-er (is that a word?) and thus highly amusing.
Definitely check out A Clown on Fire. This hilarious post about his daughter is the post that got me hooked into the saga of his crazy life and very interesting, talented wife and kids. You’ll find more here and here. You can also find some interesting and clever reads at Gemini Girl in a Random World and Paltry Meanderings of a Taller Than Average Woman, two funny women whose blogs I also follow.
Recently Le Clown took a blogging haitus while sorting out some family stuff and so when he returned I promised I’d blog in his honour and make/blog about his favourite food. Good thing he isn’t totally nuts or I’d have to be blogging about haggis or corn dogs and cotton candy…thankfully he was kidding about those. But “anything cheesy and salty” following a suggestion of French onion soup cemented it for me. A clown after my own heart! And soup it was.
Wonderful soup too. And because the onions steep and brown slowly for a long time in this recipe they, how shall I put this delicately, do not cause distress in those who do not digest onions well.
French Onion Soup
Adapted, but barely, from Smitten Kitchen’s version, which is a streamlined version of Julia Child’s. It’s really worth it to keep the heat on the low end and take the full amount of time suggested to brown the onions. The depth of flavour is lovely. This makes enough for about 6 bowls.
1 1/2 pounds yellow onions – thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef or other brown stock (mushroom works for a veggie version)
1/2 cup dry white wine
pepper to taste
Gratinée (cheesy bread topping)
1 baguette, sliced 1/2″ thick rounds and toasted until hard
1-2 cups grated cheese (Gruyere or Swiss and Parmesan/Romano)
In a large pot, melt the butter and oil over med-low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil. Cover and reduce the heat to low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.
Then, add the salt and sugar, raise the heat a bit, say med-low again, and let the onions slowly brown (30-40 min). Grab a book, your iPad, glass of wine, whatever, pull up a stool and sit there and enjoy, stirring every few minutes. If you have trouble with that, well….do the dishes, make your kid’s lunch, supervise homework, reorganize the spice rack, alphabetize or color coordinate your cookbooks, whatever floats your boat. Just don’t stray far from the kitchen for the next 30-40 min and stir frequently. They should caramelize to a deep, golden brown.
Once the onions are caramelized, sprinkle in the flour and combine. Cook for 3 minutes.
Add the wine (all at once), then add the stock, a little at a time, stirring after each addition. Season to taste with salt and pepper (keep in mind that the cheese will be salty as well so consider under-salting a little). Bring to a simmer and leave it for 30-40 min.
Pre-heat oven to 325°. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls. (Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet incase there are spills). Layer/float the baguette toasts on top of the soup bowls and cover in the grated cheese. You can butter the toasts prior to putting them on the soup but I skipped that step and it was still amazing. Bake for ~20 min or until cheese is bubbly and browned. Finish under the broiler if needed.