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Monday, December 5, 2011

Chew on This | French Onion Soup

Do you find that the food that makes you work the hardest to eat it, usually tastes the best? I call it 'labor intensive' food. For instance, crab legs are a labor intensive food. They're scrumptious but the task of eating them is daunting, so much work for so little precious, sweet meat. And pomegranates are amazing. However, cracking one open and then not staining everything in sight, is tricky.

Peeling an orange, tedious. Shelling nuts, produces finger cramps. And opening a fresh coconut, practically impossible without power tools. Yet, we continue to indulge in these foods because, well, they're absolutely delicious. The labor makes them sweeter, better. 

I place French Onion Soup in the category of labor intensive food. First you must get through the gooey, broiled layer of cheesy heaven. And then you're faced with a bread layer, soaked in rich, flavorful broth. You'd think it would be easy to spoon through, but it's not. 

And finally, you reach the onion soup. Sweet onions swimming in a dark, unctuous broth! Victory! Glorious victory!

Yea, that's fantastic, but now you must elegantly get all of these layers onto the spoon and into your mouth? Let me know when you've done this without breaking any etiquette rules. I'm still trying, after all these years.

Put perfect dinnertime etiquette on the shelf tonight. Eat this soup with fervor and relish!


Here's the recipe:

French Onion Soup
4 large onions, sliced in rings
6 T butter
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 t salt
1 t pepper
3 T flour
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 quarts (64 ounces) beef broth
1 small, day old, baguette, cubed
Sliced Gruyere or Fontina cheese

Start by peeling and slicing all of your onions. Next, in a large stock pot, melt your butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted place onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper into the pot and cook until onions are super soft and begin to brown (caramelize).  Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Add your flour and stir onions to coat. If flour starts to brown too quickly turn heat down. Cook onions another few minutes to cook out the raw flour.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and cook for a minute before adding all of your beef broth.  Bring the soup up to a simmer and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Add more salt and pepper, to taste.

When you are ready to serve, cube your baguette and preheat your broiler. Slice your cheese, thinly. Ladle your soup into oven safe bowls, toss in a handful of baguette cubes and cover soup and bread with several slices of cheese. Place soup bowls onto a cookie sheet and place under the broiler until cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve carefully. Warn your eaters that the bowls will be super hot! Enjoy!

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