Ducky’s Easy French Onion Soup

Posted in Recipes at 6:28 pm by ducky

This probably doesn’t compare to a master’s French Onion soup, with the onions lovingly caramelized in a wine sauce for 40 minutes over the perfect amount of heat. However, it is a lot easier and still really tasty.

Get a bunch of onions — as many as will fit in your oven-safe pot — and take the skins off and that nasty stringy thing at the bottom of the onion. No need to chop the onions up (yet), except to trim as needed to make them all fit into your pot.

Put the onions in the afore-mentioned oven-safe pot. I use a 5.3 litre dutch oven, which holds about nine big onions.

Toss the pot+onions in the oven for three hours at 375F. (I put a lid on my dutch oven; the guy who taught me the trick about caramelizing leaves the lid off and cooks at 300F.) When the three hours are up, just leave them in the oven to cool down. (The oven will have sterilized everything; if you don’t open the door, you ought to be able to leave them in there safely for quite a long time.) I tend to let them cool for two or three hours because I am lazy and also tend to forget about them.

After the onions have cooled, pull them out of the oven and chop them up into bite-sized pieces. (Note that because the onions are now cooked, you can chop them up without any concern about onion tears!)

Put the onions back into the dutch oven and put in enough bouillon/stock to cover them. (I use Better Than Bouillon brand goo. I love that stuff.)

Add thyme, black pepper, and white pepper.

With my 5.3L Dutch oven, I use these amounts:

  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 20-40 turns of my black pepper grinder, which I think is between .75 and 1.5 teaspoons.
  • 20-40 turns of my white pepper grinder, which I think is between .5 and 1 teaspoon

This recipe is very forgiving: a wide range of pepper amounts will be yummy.

Note that I do not add any salt. Most bouillons have enough salt in them already. If you are using home-made soup stock, you might want to add salt.

Heat the wet mixture up. You don’t need to cook it for a long time, you’re just getting the spices mixed in and getting the liquid warm.

Meanwhile, haul out something which is broiler-safe and single-serving sized. We have this soup often enough that we bought specialized French Onion Soup bowls, but ramekins work also.

For each of your bowls, cut a piece of bread to fit the bowl, and cut your favourite cheese to cover the bread. (The canonical French Onion Soup cheese is Gruyere, but me, I prefer cheddar.)

When the wet mixture is warm, put it in your oven safe bowl, float the bread on top of the liquid, and put the cheese on top of the bread.

Take your bowls and put them on a cookie sheet (to catch any spills). Set your oven to broil and put the bowls plus cookie sheet in the oven.

Leave the oven door open a crack. Two reasons: 1) the range manual says to and 2) then you can see when they are done.

Watch. The cheese will melt and bubble and eventually turn golden. When you see just a little bit of brown, you should pull the bowls out. A little bit of singeing is okay, but you don’t want it to burn. This takes about five minutes.

Serve right away. Be careful, the bowls will be HOT!

I’m low class, I like to use a knife to cut up the bread and cheese on the top. (My husband is classier and manages to use only a spoon.) Have a piece of bread handy to clean the bowl with at the end, as you’ll have little yummy bits left.

This recipe and a 5.3L Dutch oven yields a LOT of liquid — maybe enough for ten bowls of soup? The good news is that the wet mixture stores nicely in either the freezer or the fridge. Put it in the oven safe bowls, toss it in the microwave to heat it up a bit, add bread and cheese, then put it in the broiler. (If you put it in the broiler without heating the liquid first, the liquid will be unsatisfyingly tepid.)