Does January make anyone else feel like hibernating and making meals involving lots of cheese? Because I feel like that's all I've been doing lately. Hence the cheesy, bread-topped "soup" (yes, soup) you see photographed above.
I'm officially on a soup kick. I mean I've always liked soup, but this season it feels like I have a whole new appreciation for it. It all started when I went home and was spoiled with the following lineup: creamy chicken wild rice, fire-roasted tomato and chicken spaetzle (thanks, Mom).
When I got back to my my apartment in Lyon, my fridge was sadly bare (except for a few stray oranges from the 2 kilos I bought right before leaving). Pantry status wasn't much better - except for a few onions. A quick glance in the freezer revealed half a baguette (side note that I forgot to mention in my post on baguette dinners: they freeze beautifully).
Jet-lagged and tired from being up for who knows how many hours, I tried to think about what I could make for dinner with a few onions and half a frozen baguette. The options were limited. But then I thought: French onion soup!
It was my first time making Soupe à l'oignon gratinée, which a friend later informed me is apparently very franchouillard aka typically French, maybe even a little old school.
Anyway, the trick to this recipe, which I didn't necessarily nail this time around, is caramelizing the onions. I don't know why but I can't seem to get this one down without burning them. Every. Single. Time. Also, make sure you add broth and not water to the onions. I didn't have the time or ingredients to make a bouillon, so I just added water. As a result, the soup itself was a bit bland, but the layer of crusty bread and melted cheese on top almost made up for it.
Easy French Onion Soup
12 medium-sized onions (used three for 1 serving)
45 g. butter
2 cloves of garlic
15 g. flour
1.5 L broth (beef or chicken)
salt + pepper
60 g. shredded cheese (I used Comté)
Instructions: Slice onions into quarters and then more finely. Melt the butter and add the onions, cooking and stirring occasionally over medium heat until onions are soft and caramelized. The key here is patience. With a lot of onions, this part could take up to an hour. If you're like me, you'll want to bump up the heat to speed up the process, but resist that urge, otherwise you will burn the onions! Sprinkle flour and chopped garlic over onions and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes more. Then add the broth and the bay leaf. Bring soup to a simmer and let cook at least 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
For the topping: dish soup into oven-proof ramekins. Top with bread (I tore a baguette into crouton-sized pieces, but slices also work) and shredded cheese. Broil in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until cheese browns on top.