My emergency trip to France earlier this year gave me a chance to eat some great onion soup. While Chris Kimball has four recipes, it took me 6 months before I bought a set of broiler-safe crocs. But finally I am able to give his recipes a try, and my first is this Best French Onion Soup. The onions are baked in the oven for 2-1/2 hours before spending another 1-1/2 hours on the stovetop. Unfortunately, the results were disappointing because the onion had become too dark in the oven; not allowing me to triple deglaze the pot on the stovetop. The end result tasted slightly burned. However other bloggers (here and here ) loved this recipe, and I see that my onions were darker than theirs in every stage of cooking. It must be my convection oven, which typically bakes “cooler” than Chris Kimball’s. On the positive side, the Gruyere was amazing, and the long cooking time allowed the onions to deeply caramelize, so much so that I cannot imagine using any sweeter types of onion. I am disappointed that I can only give it 2-1/2 stars.
- 4 hours is too much cooking time. The onions became too dark and I was not able to triple deglaze the pot on the stovetop; which was supposed to be the “secret” to this recipe. Next time I’ve reduce the over temperature to 375-degrees and pay closer attention during the baking time. If I still have to cut down the cooking time, I want to be sure that I reduce the time in the oven rather than the triple deglazing on the stovetop.
- $18 for soup seems impossibly expensive; but $10 of that was the French Gruyere Comt, rather than the equally expensive, but proper Swiss Gruyere. To save money I may mix $2 worth of Jarlsberg with some fresh Parmesan.
- The final soup had to many onion slices, which I realize is an odd complaint for onion soup. I wanted all the onion flavor but wished some of the slices had disintegrated.
- This other blogger had a brilliant idea for those without broiler-safe crocs. Broil the cheese and bread slices on a baking sheet, then slip
- 10 minutes in the oven to dry out the baguette slices didn’t do much to slow down them from quickly becoming mushy.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 1:00 pm Ready: 6:00 pm.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4-lbs yellow onions
2 cups water
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together using kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper
1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese
- Cut your onions in half from pole to pole, and slice off the root end of onion. Peel and discard the the skin. Placing each onion half with the flat side down on cutting board, slice each onion half from pole to pole into 1/4″-thick slices. By cutting from pole to pole, the onions should maintain their shape during the 2-1/2 hours in the oven.
- Set an oven rack to the lower middle position in your oven. Preheat to 400 degrees.
- Spray the inside of a 7-quart dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray. Place 3 tablespoons of butter, and onion slices into your dutch oven. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.
- Fully cover and cook for 1 hour. Then remove from oven and stir and scrape the bottom and sides. Return to oven with the lid slightly ajar and cook for another 1-1/2 hours; stir and scrape the onions after 45 minutes. The onions should be very soft and golden brown.
- Remove the onions from the oven and put on stovetop over medium to medium-high heat. Be very careful to use oven mitts when handling the pot or lid.
- Cook the onions for 15 to 20 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions have browned; stir and scrape the bottom and sides frequently. Adjust the heat if your onions are browning too quickly.
- Continue to cook for another 6 to 8 minutes until the pot’s bottom becomes coated with dark, but not burned, crust. Again, you may need to adjusting the heat.
- To loosen the fond, stir in 1/4-cup water and scrape the bottom and sides. Continue to cook for another 6 to 8 minutes until the pot’s bottom again becomes coated with dark, but not burned, crust. Repeat this process of deglazing until the onions become very dark brown; 2 or 3 more times.
- Stir in 1/2-cup dry sherry scraping up any last bits of fond from on the bottom and sides of your pot. Cook for 5 minutes until the sherry has evaporated; stirring frequently.
- Now add both chicken and beef broth, 2-cups of water, thyme bundle, bay leaf, and 1/2-teaspoon table salt. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then cover and reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice baguette into 1/2″-thick slices and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake slices for about 10 to 12 minutes in a 400-degree oven until the bread becomes crispy and golden along the edges.
- Remove and discard herbs, then season with pepper (and adjust salt if necessary).
- Adjust an oven rack so that it is 6″ from the broiler element. Preheat broiler on high for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Fill each broiler-safe crocks with soup and place on your foil-lined baking sheet. Place 1 or 2 baguette slices with the crispy side down, being careful not to overlap your slices. Sprinkle with shredded Gruyère and broil for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling around edges. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.