I searched the web for a recipe to start with and created this recipe from my notes from a recording of the Juila Childs French Chef cooking show episode 2 from 1963. The episode was televised before I was born and it is still awesome tv for any foodie.
You need a very beefy broth to add to the onions. I created my own broth from chicken legs, mushrooms, celery, tomato paste and marrow bones. See the details on the Meat Stock post. I omitted the onions in the homemade stock to prevent the overall dish from becoming overly sweet. I still ended up adding about 8 beef bullion cubes to achieve the strong beefy flavor.
I mixed up the onions to get a variety of flavors and I blanched a bag of pearl onions and sliced them down the middle to add to the soup before the final cooking stage. This added some nice texture.
Make the soup a day ahead to let the flavors settle and gratinee 1 hour before serving. You can weigh the soup before reheating to determine proper seasoning.
Add vinegar or dry sherry or dry vermouth if too sweet.
I served in individual 4″ x 2.5″ ramekins but you could make it in a large casserole dish.
- 1.5 lbs of yellow onions (2 medium), sliced
- 1 lbs of shallots, sliced
- 2 leeks (white parts only) sliced
- 10 oz. package of fresh pearl onions, blanched and peeled.
- 2 Tablespoons of oil (1 Tablespoon at start and 1 Tablespoon near the end)
- 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
- 3 Tablespoons of flour
- 6 cups of beef stock
- 4 – 8 bullion cubes (to taste)
- 1 cup red wine (dry)
- 1/2 cup of dry sherry
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered sage
- 6″ of french bread cut on an angle to make round-ish slices
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil.
- 12 slices swiss cheese
- 8 oz. grated gruyere cheese (about 2 cups by volume)
- 1 cup grated pamesan cheese
- Additional salt to taste (about 1 Tablespoon)
- Slice onions.
- Brown onions (except pearl onions) in 1 Tablespoon of oil and 2 Tablespoons of butter. The oil keeps the butter from burning.
- Stir the onions until coated with fat.
- Etuvé – Cook covered for 20 minutes over medium heat until they are tender. This fully cooks them before they brown so you don’t wind up with browned raw onions. Stir every 5 minutes.
- Uncover, increase to medium-high heat and add 1 tsp salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. This will help them brown.
- Stir frequetly to prevent burning until they are browned.
- Add 3 Tablespoons of flour and cook over moderate heat to create a roux. Add some butter if there isn’t enough to coat all the flour. You don’t want any dry, white flour in the mixture.
- Brown the flour for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add 1 – 2 cups of beef stock to deglaze the pan.
- Add the remainder of 6 cups of beef stock
- Add 1 cup of dry red wine
- Add a bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon powdered sage.
- Partially cover and cook slowly for 40 minutes to meld the flavors and cook out the alcohol.
- Remove the bay leaves.
- Season to taste.
Croutes – Toasted french bread:
- Slice bread into 1″ thick slices.
- Place them on a baking sheet.
- Baste each side with olive oil.
- Bake at 325 for 15 minutes on each side.
Onion Soup Gratinee (grah-Tin-ay’):
- Spoon onion soup into a baking dish to about 3/4″ to 1″ below the top.
- Divide in the pearl onions to add some texture.
- Slice swiss cheese and add to the soup to cover about half the bottom bottom about 1/8″ deep.
- Float the toasted bread on the top of the soup.
- Spread grated gruyere cheese and pamesan cheese on top of the toast.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (cheese won’t be brown, yet)
- Place the soup on the top rack and broil on high until cheese browns. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.
Final pic coming soon. This was so good, we ate them all before we remembered to take an after-picture.