Hubby Cooks: French Onion Soup


The entire world has practically seen “Julie & Julia” by now.  I think we are the last of our friends to partake.  While it’s got mixed reviews, what it’s done in my household is spark the husband’s curiosity about Julia Child, and then some.

I got home from work a few weeks ago and found him watching a Julia Child cooking video.

“What’s this?  You’re watching Julia?”

The voice, mannerisms and sometimes clumsiness, you’ve got to love her.  The hubby can do a perfect imitation of Julia saying “…and add a little butter…”.

He’s intrigued with her and learning to cook; this is a first.  Well maybe not 100% as he does make one heck of a poached egg.

The first episode he dug into was French onion soup.  He got a quick lesson on holding a knife and cutting onions then went to town.  I gave a tad bit of coaching here and there to make his life easier.  The biggest challenge was not having soup tureens or bowls that would work well, so he was creative.

The outcome was extraordinary. I welcome him making it anytime.  For anyone out there who doesn’t cook but would like to give a try, here is Mrs. Child’s recipe, albeit a few changes.

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée)

3 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 lbs. or about 6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached white flour

6 cups beef stock (homemade is best)

1 cup red wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 baguette

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère or Emmentaler cheese

Melt the butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the sliced onions.  Cook, stirring periodically for about 15 minutes or so.  If the onions begin to stick on the bottom, turn the heat down a little.

Stir in the salt and sugar.  Continue to cook for another 15 to 25 minutes, again stirring periodically, until the onions are deep brown and kind of jammy.  In the meantime, warm the stock in a separate pot.

Stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously to brown the flour.  Remove from heat and briskly stir in one cup of the warm stock.  Add the wine, herbs and remaining stock, then bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes then taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.

While the soup is simmering, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Cut the baguette into ½-inch thick slices.  Brush each side generously with olive oil and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Toast them until golden brown (about 6 to 10 minutes).  Remove and let cool.

Place 2 or 3 toasted baguette slices in the bottom of each heatproof bowl.

Bottom of the Bowl

Ladle soup over the toasts, making sure to include lots of onions.  Top with about ¼ cup grated cheese.  Place bowls on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Turn the oven to broil.  Make sure the oven rack is low enough to hold your bowls and not hit the top-heating element.

Broil until bubbly and the cheese turns a golden brown.  Keep a close eye as this goes quick.  Remove and make sure to let the soup cool slightly before consuming as it can burn your mouth, seriously.

Don’t forget about wine!  As Julia said in this particular French Chef video, enjoy with a glass of Beaujolais.  We just happened to have a bottle and it was great with the soup!

A final note for curious minds: This recipe is from her book, The French Chef.  It’s different from the one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  You can find her cooking videos on Netflix.

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