. Soup Review: French Onion Soup by Cook's Illustrated Seriously Soupy

Monday, November 15, 2010

Soup Review: French Onion Soup by Cook's Illustrated

French Onion Soup - Image Credit: Cook's Illustrated
Seriously Soupy's French Onion Soup
It has been awhile since my soup review post where I test out a popular soup recipe. Since I have been meaning to try a French Onion Soup but was unsure of the steps enough to 'wing-it,' I decided that this was the perfect time to try this recipe I have been eying from Cook's Illustrated. Described as the "Best French Onion Soup" and one that requires patience, I quickly learned that this wasn't the quick and easy soups that I was used to. With cooking time measuring in over 2.5 hours patience is definitely required, however, I wouldn't have known about all of the steps involved, so following the recipe was actually very helpful. Plus, the recipe was accompanied with step-by-step pictures on how to brown the onions, which made the process very easy. The recipe also suggested using yellow onions (Vidalia) and Swanson broth but I opted to use one with my of new favorite local brands - Brooklyn Bouillon. The recipe is definitely worth trying out, but be sure to carve out enough time for the preparation.

French Onion Soup
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices

Table salt
2 cups water , plus extra for deglazing
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (see note)
2 cups beef broth - I used Brooklyn Bouillon

6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf

Ground black pepper
Cheese Croutons
1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)

    1.    For the soup: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
    2.   Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.) Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
    3.   Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
    4.   For the croutons: While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
    5.   To serve: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

What is your favorite French Onion Soup recipe?
Seriously Soupy Serena

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