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French Onion Soup


Marlene
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Since I'm on a soft foods diet for the next couple of days, i thought I might French Onion Soup tomorrow. Tea is about all I can handle right now :biggrin: . I've always used just regular cooking onions to make it, French Onion Soup but it occured to me that spanish onions might also be a good choice.

anyone have a favourite onion they use when making this soup?

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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i use a mix of spanish and sweets - maui, oso.

sometimes i just slice them suckers up - other times i will make roasted garlic and onion soup and coarsely chop the onions up in the blender. since you are on soft foods you might want to go the puree route.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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the stronger the onion the better. I use big old nasty white ones. Then slowly caramelize. The stronger onions don't end up strong if they are slowly cooked. They gain a sweetness and flavor that is unmatched IMHO. If you add in some red onion, it seems to add a little different flavor note. I have tried the sweets (Maui, 1015s) and the flavor was weak.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Marlene, this is a really good question. I've been wondering the same thing, because I have conflicting advice from my cookbooks.

In her book Bistro Cooking, Patricia Wells advises to use white onions, such as Bermuda onion, because "yellow onions can turn bitter."

However, most other recipes I have advocate using yellow onions, on the basis that white onions -- particularly "sweet" varieties like Vidalias -- will not caramelize properly.

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I have used yellow onions a lot, before I found out the whites were better, and have never had them turn bitter. And I REALLY caramelize the onions. (Maybe Wells was using French yellow onions. Errr... I will resist going there.) They just don't have the flavor that the whites do. The Texas 1015 sweets are a yellow onion. So are the ones I have gotten in Maui.

Years ago, my mother grew something called Egyptian onions. They looked like green onions on steroids and you used the white part. Boy! Were they strong! You had to cut them up under the hood or outside. When they were slowly cooked in butter they made about the most delicious onion dish I ever had. I have always wanted to make onion soup out of those puppies. Does anyone know what I am talking about? Better yet, where I can get some?

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Years ago, my mother grew something called Egyptian onions. They looked like green onions on steroids and you used the white part. Boy! Were they strong! You had to cut them up under the hood or outside. When they were slowly cooked in butter they made about the most delicious onion dish I ever had. I have always wanted to make onion soup out of those puppies. Does anyone know what I am talking about? Better yet, where I can get some?

I believe what you've described is what we call Mexican green onions in these parts. I can get them at local farmers' markets and/or Hispanic mercados. They're wonderful, but very, very strong -- just as you said. In the Catalan region of Spain, I've had them roasted or grilled and served with Romesco sauce. Awesome combination. Romesco sauce is also fabulous with roasted asparagus . . . :smile:

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  • 9 months later...

Forgive my French spelling up there, I was looking for a nice description.

Being that I love French Onion, and order it almost everytime I see it on a menu, and used to be a pro cook, I decided it was time for me to make my very own.

I hunted down a recipe I thought grand, the one from Jan/Feb '99 Cooks Illustrated. I tweaked it as usual... added 2 beef shanks to make up for not having homemade beef stock, added more red wine than called for and started it with some pork fat in addition to the butter.

The cheese topping was comprised of leftover residents in my fridge, which given my profession, I have lots of. The shredded mix was piave vecchio, prima donna, mahon and parmesean. I didn't use croutons to make it more carb friendly.

I was highly pleased with the results and wishing I had a digital camera to share the results with you all.

Now, tell me your secrets of le onion!

Lisa K

Lavender Sky

"No one wants black olives, sliced 2 years ago, on a sandwich, you savages!" - Jim Norton, referring to the Subway chain.

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I like the good beef stock route. In fact, your post is causing me to eye that remaining jar of demi-glace in the freezer that "just needs to be used up". I have done it many ways, but the all time family favorite is from Emeril's book Louisiana Real and Rustic. However, he does melt some cheese in the soup as well. We think that is superfluous so I leave it out. I do like the added herbs, though.

That being said, let's get to the heart of the matter, the onions. I find the strongest onions I can. In fact, when I buy a bunch of onions and find that they are abnormally strong, the next thing to happen is onion soup. When you caramelize onions slowly and completely, strong onions come out so sweet and flavorful that there is nothing like it. I found that out years ago when my mother was growing Egyptian onions (also called "walking onions"). These things were so strong that cutting them up in the kitchen turned the whole place into a toxic waste zone. But they were the sweetest and most delicious onion on earth when stewed slowly with butter.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Related to fifi's point, has anybody else come to the conclusion that sweet onions (Mauis, Walla Wallas, Vidalias, etc.) are a waste when it comes to recipes, like French Onion Soup, that involve long cooking? I find they turn bland, whereas the really pungent ones have enough character to survive and prosper.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Dave, yes i use regular spanish onions-anything else is a waste i think. I will usually delgaze with a fortified wine for a little more sweetness. Chix, veal, or both for the stock. And combination a of emmental and gruyere are, imo, the only way to top an onion soup.

danny

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I like a combination of onions - red, shallots, white, yellow... And when Vidalia's are prevalent in the market, I'll lightly sauté them for a last-minute sweet bite (agreeing that their sweetness can get lost).

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I'd like to recommend Jacques Pepin's Onion Soup recipe from Jacques and Julia Cook at Home. It's just first class onion soup and hang on to your toques, mes amis: He uses chicken stock!

As I am 96% likely to have chicken stock in the freezer on any given night, and .01% to have a container of beef stock tucked away, I am making this sublime soup way more often than I used to. The caramelized onions darken the soup, the flavor is just as exciting and intense as the beef-based version and I truly doubt that I could tell the difference in a blind taste test, especially as it has the requisite croutons and gruyere garnish.

This recipe is one of my happiest finds of 2003.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I'd like to recommend Jacques Pepin's Onion Soup recipe from Jacques and Julia Cook at Home. It's just first class onion soup and hang on to your toques, mes amis: He uses chicken stock!

As I am 96% likely to have chicken stock in the freezer on any given night, and .01% to have a container of beef stock tucked away, I am making this sublime soup way more often than I used to. The caramelized onions darken the soup, the flavor is just as exciting and intense as the beef-based version and I truly doubt that I could tell the difference in a blind taste test, especially as it has the requisite croutons and gruyere garnish.

This recipe is one of my happiest finds of 2003.

I agree. I have used that one for the same reason. I don't always have my favorite homemade beef stock. A good homemade chicken stock makes a really good soup and I almost always have that. I am trying to get better at keeping beef stock in the freezer but it is more difficult, and increasingly more expensive, to make.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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A french friend of mine told me that there's a tradition over there of serving "French" onion soup at that end of the night on New Years Eve. (They probably don't call it "French" onion soup.)

He made some one NYs eve. It was awful. Little more than sliced onions in water with butter melted in it. Really. He was adamant that this was traditional.

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Yes, it can, and I made it that way for many years. However it is not nearly as satisfying as it is with a rich animal-based stock.

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This is not a pun (coming from me), but a shot of Cognac added to the mix really hits the spot!

There's a bit of cream sherry in the stock for our French Onion soup. :smile:

Almost any type of sherry or brandy makes a nice and flavorful addition.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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In cooking school we would make a beef consomme every day and then on the last day we'd use the leftover consomme to make the french onion soup. I got to make it, and it came out pretty well but you gotta sweat/caramelize the onions a lot to make them soft enough.

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I use both red wine and cream sherry in mine. Beef stock. I let it simmer for two or three hours to blend flavours, so I tend to just use spanish onions. Gryuere cheese over top, lots of croutons underneath :smile:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Had some homemade beef stock in the freezer just the other night and turned it into some incredible onion soup. I used 3 different kinds of onions - white, spainish and purple. Don't know how this affects the end flavor, but I just like the idea of having 3 kinds of onions in the soup :biggrin:

Chopped them up into long stringy pieces and sauteed in butter and a touch of olive oil until they were totall reduced. My pot was filled to the top with the raw ones and they reduced down about 75% by the end. Meanwhile I was bringing my stock up to a boil. I think one key is to use about 5 times as much onions as you'd think you need. Even with the pot filled to the top while I was sauteing, I still could've used more onions in the end product. Anyway...

Sprinkled 1 or 2 spoonfuls of flour in for thickness and then splashed in a bunch of red wine and brandy. Brought it up to a boil again and then added my stock and seasoning. Lots of salt, pepper and a bay leaf. Simmered for about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile I cubed up a few pieces of great french bread and lightly toasted. I served the soup into my traditional brown french onion soup crocks. Added the croutons and topped with thick cut grueyere and romano cheese (a sprinkling).

Under the broiler for about 5 minutes and it was bubbly and golden...MMMMMM!

Ate it with a lemon juice/olive oil dressed salad and a glass of good french wine. Nothing like it!

The best part is, I had plenty of leftover soup. I measure it out in portions of two into plastic ziplock baggies and freeze. Then when I want onion soup, I just defrost, cut up some cheese and croutons and bam. Done in 15 minutes tops.

This was my second time making the soup and both times thankfully, it's come out being some of the best french onion soup I've had. I love it!

Enjoy,

~WBC

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The recipe I made used red onions, as the thorough testing by CI said they worked best.

Louisiana Real and Rustic is the one book I own by Emeril. I make his chicken with braised onions in there once in awhile.

The STRONG onion idea makes sense, the longer an onion is around, more sugar, similar to a ripening banana.

Speaking of cooking school duties, I will have to get around to making chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, a culinary school staple.

I will add cream to the small leftovers and use it as a sauce for roast beef tomorrow night if I'm not snowed in.

Thanks for sharing this tasty day with me!

Lisa K

Lavender Sky

"No one wants black olives, sliced 2 years ago, on a sandwich, you savages!" - Jim Norton, referring to the Subway chain.

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Louisiana Real and Rustic is the one book I own by Emeril. I make his chicken with braised onions in there once in awhile.

Have you tried the onion soup recipe? i did it "by the book" the first time and it was wonderful. But, like I said up-thread, we quit putting the cheese into the soup.

BTW... If you are good at making dark roux, try the Beef Fricasee (sp?).

That idea of adding cream to leftovers for a sauce is truly inspired. I LOVE it.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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