Friday, September 16, 2011

French Onion Soup

Can you feel the chill in the air? Why, just last weekend it was balmy and warm...September you fickle fool. I know what's coming though, and it's only going to get worse! The one saving grace about autumn is nature's bountiful harvest, and inexpensive, fresh and local produce. Although I enjoy visiting the Jean Talon market at any time of the year, it seems as though we are now in the apex of freshness and possibility.

I made a simple onion soup to keep the chill away on the first of fleeting fall days. Why is fall so short and winter so long?

The culprits in question: 5 onions, veg stock, thyme, butter, olive oil. Put these humble ingredients together and it makes a party for your mouth!

Methods I have seen used firsthand to prevent onion tears:

1) Wearing ski goggles whilst chopping.

2) Shoving a piece of bread inside your mouth between the teeth and upper lip.

3) Holding an unlit match between your teeth.

4) Keeping the onions cold in the fridge.

What I do: Nothing. I just cry through it. Enjoy the cathartic release, people!

After wiping away the tears, I massaged the onions in a soup pot with:

3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs olive oil
a few pinches of salt
a splash of water

Then it was time to sweat the onions. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. When the water has evaporated, remove the lid and it's time for the best part: caramelizing the onions! They go from firmly pungent white strings to sweet, softly yielding golden filaments. All in one hour, while making your kitchen smell absolutely fantastic.

When an hour has passed, it's time to make these caramelized onions into soup!

Add 6 cups of stock. I used veggie bouillon cubes but I am sure this soup would work amazingly with a homemade stock. Then, add about a teaspoon of thyme and simmer for 15 minutes. I tasted mine and it was way too sweet so I added a tablespoon of port vinegar to impart some tang to the soup.

Ce n'est pas une vrai soupe aux onions sans le fromage et le pain! Yes, so we need some bread and cheese to finish this baby off. Some multi grain baguette and some emmenthal grated and over top and then broiled should do the trick!

Get that bread in the soup bowl and laddle your creation over top. There's something slightly subversive about wetting toasted bread. It expects to stay crispy but I had other ideas for it!

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