On a cold dreary day, a bowl of French Onion Soup can seem like a ray of sunshine in the abyss. There’s the toasty cheese on top, delicious caramelized onions, buttery garlic croutons, and rich, hot broth that’s certain to chase the chill away.
But it’s August, you say, why are we talking about a hearty fall, or winter dish, during the hottest days of the summer? I blame a YouTube video I watched, Foodwishes American French Onion Soup. One viewing and the craving was immediate. It rattled around in my skull like a rock stuck in my shoe. Soon it was obvious, ignoring it would not help. No, the siren call refused to be denied!
Eager to get my fix, I assembled my ingredients, using as much of what I already had on hand, then set forth, basing much of what I did on that Foodwishes recipe. I decided to use Boundary Bay‘s Scotch Ale in place of some of the broth, hoping the maltiness of the beer would be accented by the sweetness of the caramelized onion. A bit of cognac added some depth and complexity as well. The result was one I was very happy with: lots of onion flavor supported brilliantly by the richness of the Scotch Ale, and subtle hints of cognac in the finish. A day in the fridge only made this tasty dish even better.
- Cut the onions in a large dice. Preheat oven to 425 and melt butter in a baking pan large enough for the onions. Add onions, half tablespoon brown sugar, teaspoon of salt, and mix thoroughly. Bake for about an hour, stirring about every fifteen minutes to ensure even cooking. What we’re looking for here is for the onions to become soft and translucent, not completely caramelized. As soon as this happens, move on to the next step.
- Remove the onions from the oven and add them to a large pot. Cook on medium, stirring often.
- Once they’re very caramelized and cooked down, add a half tablespoon of flour and 3 tablespoons cognac. Stir until flour and cognac are completely incorporated.
- Add Scotch Ale to deglaze while scraping all the browned goodness free from the bottom of your pot. Now add both the chicken and beef broth, fresh thyme, teaspoon of garlic powder, and increase temp to high. Reduce once you reach a boil, simmering for about an hour. Make sure not to cook it down too far. We want soup, not sludge!
- When the soup has sufficiently reduced, fish out your sprigs of thyme, then add salt and pepper to taste. The very final seasoning will be some red wine vinegar. I only used a few drops. I can’t advise adding this with care enough: it’s easy to overdo it on this ingredient. Definitely side with caution here.
- Fire up the broiler, and while the oven heats slice your bread. We want a slice to top each bowl, so slice the corresponding amount. Give your bread a generous spread of butter on each side, then toast under the broiler until browned and crunchy on both sides, turning as needed.
- Peel a garlic clove and slice in half, rubbing all over your toasted bread. Fill your oven safe bowls with soup, top with bread, followed by shredded cheddar cheese, leaving none of the bread uncovered. This prevents it from burning. Place your bowls of soup beneath the broiler and broil until cheese is brown and bubbling. Serve to your friends and float the idea of running for mayor.