Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recipes to Rival - Soupe A L'Oignon

This month for Recipes to Rival Sara of Imafoodblogdotcom chose Onion Soup from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook. I would like to give this soup another name, The I Have No Life Onion Soup.
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I was very happy to make it because Matt really love onion soup but seriously, cook the onions for 5 hours stirring every 15 minutes! Yes, it made for wonderful, sweet, deep brown onions but its a commitment. The soup was very good, slightly sweet & extremely rich, I couldn't even finish my whole bowl.
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I had every intention of making Keller's beef stock as well but ended up really just winging it. My stock started with about 1 pound of short ribs. I roasted the short ribs with a little olive oil at 450 for about an hour, turning once. Then I added a chopped carrots, some leeks & some onion to the roasting pan & let them all cook for about another half hour. All of that went into a stock pot with some fresh thyme & parsley, a bay leaf, a little salt & a few peppercorns & then covered with 10 cups of water. I let that simmer for a good 6 hours adding more water as needed (I probably added at least another 6 cups of water throughout the day). Them I put the stock through a sieve to remove the solids. I refrigerated it overnight & then was able to remove any fat since it became a solid on the top of the stock. I ended up with a really beautiful beef stock, that was a lovely brown color & full of flavor. It made just enough to make 1/3 of the onion recipe which was 2 servings, perfect for us.
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Onion Soup - Soupe A L'Oignon
Thomas Keller - Bouchon

makes 6 servings

Sachet:
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
6 large sprigs of thyme

Soup:
8 pounds (about 8 large) yellow onions
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter

Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 1/2 quarts Beef Stock (recipe below)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sherry wine vinegar

Croutons:
1 baguette (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt
6 to 12 slices (1/8 inch thick) aged Comte or Emmentaler cheese (at least 4 inches square)
1 1/2 cups grated aged Comte or Emmentaler cheeses, or a combination

FOR THE SACHET: Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 7 inches square. Place the bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme in the center, bring up the edges, and tie with kitchen twine to form a sachet.

FOR THE SOUP: Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions, then cut the onions lengthwise in half. Remove the peels and tough outer layers. Cut a V wedge in each one to remove the core and pull out any solid, flat pieces of onion running up from the core.

Lay an onion half cut side down on a cutting board with the root end toward you. Note that there are lines on the outside of the onion. Cutting on the lines (with the grain) rather than against them will help the onions soften. Holding the knife on an angle, almost parallel to the board, cut the onion lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Once you've cut past the center of the onion, the knife angle will become awkward: Flip the onion onto its side, toward the knife, and finish slicing it, again along the grain. Separate the slices of onion, trimming away any root sections that are still attached and holding the slices together. Repeat with the remaining onions. (You should have about 7 quarts of onions)

Melt the butter in a large heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and 1 tablespoon salt, reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes and regulating the heat to keep the mixture bubbling gently, for about 1 hour, or until the onions have wilted and released a lot of liquid. At this point, you can turn up the heat slightly to reduce the liquid, but it is important to continue to cook the onions slowly to develop maximum flavor and keep them from scorching. Continue to stir the onions every 15 minutes, being sure to scrape the bottom and get in the corners of the pot, for about 4 hours more, or until the onions are caramelized throughout and a rich deep brown. (Sara's note - like a super deep brown, like way browner than you think they need to be. Think poop. Yes I said it.) Keep a closer eye on the onions toward the end of the cooking when the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat. (You will need 1 1/2 cups of onions for the soup; reserve any extra for another use. The onions can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)

Transfer the caramelized onions to a 5 quart pot (if they've been refrigerated, reheat until hot.) Sift in the flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and sachet, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 quarts. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few drops of vinegar. Remove from the heat.

FOR THE CROUTONS: Preheat the broiler. Cut twelve 3/8 inch thick slices from the baguette (reserve the remainder for another use) and place on a baking sheet. Brush the bread lightly on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place under the broiler and toast the first side until golden brown, then turn and brown the second side. Set aside and leave the broiler on.

TO COMPLETE: Return the soup to a simmer. Place six flameproof soup tureens, with about 1 1/2 cups capacity on a baking sheet to catch any spills (the soup will bubble up and over the tureens). Add the hot soup to the tureens, filling them within 1/2 inch of the tops. Top each serving with 2 croutons: Lay them on the surface - do not push them into the soup. Lay the slices of cheese over the croutons so that the cheese overlaps the edges of the tureens by about 1/2 inch, Scatter the grated cheese over the sliced cheese, filling in any areas where the sliced cheese is thiner, or it may melt into the soup rather than forming a crust.

Place the tureens under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese bubbles, browns, and forms a thick crust. Eat carefully, the soup and tureens will be very hot.

Beef Stock
makes 3 1/2 quarts

We use this stock for onion soup and to add in combination with veal stock to beef stews. The bones are roasted first to give the stock a roasted flavor, then simmered with caramelized vegetables for a rich brown stock.

About 2 tablespoons canola oil
5 pounds meaty beef necks or leg bones, cut into 2-3 inch sections
2 small Spanish onions (about 8 ounces total), peeled
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 ounces (1 large) carrot, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
3 ounces (1 large) leek, roots trimmed, split lengthwise, rinsed well, and cut into 2 inch pieces, or leek tops
1 large sprig of thyme
1 large sprig of Italian parsley
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 head garlic, cut horizontally in half (reserve half for another use)

Preheat the oven to 475F. Place a large roasting pan in the oven to preheat for about 10 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil tot he hot roasting pan and distribute the beef bones in a single layer. Roast the bones for about 45 minutes, or until richly browned, turning each piece only after it is well browned on the bottom side.

Meanwhile, cut 1 onion crosswise in half. Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Place 1 onion half cut side down to one side of the skillet so that it is not over direct heat and let it brown and char black, about 30 minutes. This will add color to the stock, set aside.

Remove the roasting pan of bones from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400F. Transfer bones to a large colander set over a baking sheet to drain.

Drain the fat from the roasting pan and discard. Add about 1 cup water to the pan, place over medium heat, and use a metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan and release the pan juices. Let them simmer until reduced by half. Add the resulting fond to a large deep stockpot.

Transfer the bones to the stockpot and add about 5 quarts cold water - just enough to cover the bones. Any fat present in the juices will rose to the top when the cold water is added; use a skimmer to remove and discard the fat. Add the charred onion half and the salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, skimming as impurities rise to the top of the stockpot. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, skimming often, for 5 hours. If the level of liquid falls below the bones, add additional water.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining whole onion into quarters and cut the remaining onion half in half again. Place the onions, carrots, and leeks in a roasting pan that will hold them in a single layer, toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil, and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir, then roast for an additional 20 minutes or until the vegetables are richly caramelized. Set aside.

After the stock has simmered for 5 hours, add the caramelized vegetables, herbs, peppercorns, and garlic and simmer for 1 hour longer. Turn off the heat and allow the stock to rest for 10 minutes.

Prepare an ice bath. Place a strainer over a large bowl. Removing the bones or pouring out the liquid through the bones would cloud the stock. Instead, carefully ladle the stock out of the pot and pass it through the strainer, tilting the pot as necessary to get all the stock. Strain a second time through a chinois or fine mesh strainer lines with a dampened cheese cloth.

Measure the stock. If you have more than 3 1/2 quarts, pour it into a saucepan and reduce to 3 1/2 quarts. Strain the stock into a container and cool in the ice bath, stirring occasionally. (Store the stock in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze in several containers for longer storage.)

NOTE: If the stock will be refrigerated for longer than 3 days, bring it back to a boil after 3 days, cool it, and return it to the refrigerator.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted.
© 2007-2009 Kathy Lewinski

16 comments:

George Gaston said...

kat... This looks delicious. I like too, that you use small soufflé dishes... great idea!

Dawn said...

french onion soup (done right) is my favorite of soups. and I am not a big soup fan unless there is a lot of stuff in it. or, I hate broth based soups. LOL
I would love to try this.

Claudia said...

I'm with you - couldn't finish my bowl. In fact, I just had the rest for my lunch. Nice photos.

Lori said...

This looks fabulous Kat.

lakegirl said...

You're so right, this soup was a committment. Your topping looks nice and crusty. I couldn't get mine quite like I wanted it.

natalia said...

Ciao ! It was a bit exhausting ..but beautiful and good !!

Grace said...

i love your revised name for this--so true! looks like cheesy, twangy heaven though, and a good excuse to hang out in the kitchen.

Stacey Snacks said...

I made onion soup last week too, however, same recipe, just did not take that long!
It was rich, sweet and delicious.
I couldn't finish it either!

sara said...

haha, I would support the renaming of this recipe as well. Your soup looks perfect, thanks for cooking this month's challenge with me.

Deborah said...

wow - that is a lot of effort for a bowl of soup!

Lori said...

My husband's absolute favorite. I tried making it once without much success, but I think it is time to try to master it again. Yours looks wonderful.

Foodycat said...

That's a hell of a soup! OK if you have some apprentices to stir the onions for you, but for normal people? I'm not going to show Paul this one. He adores onion soup gratinee and I can see myself getting suckered.

Psychgrad said...

What caramelize onions for 5 hours? Were there tears running down your face all day? This looks delicious, but quite the commitment.

I'm curious about reheating the broth after 3 days. Why do you suggest that?

kat said...

Psychgrad - With most homemade broths or stocks its recommended you boil them for a minute before using after storage to kill any bacteria. You aren't storing in sterile containers so you never know...

Peter M said...

Oooey-gooey, who cares about the tough clean-up...French Onion is well worth it.

Jessica Nunemaker said...

Wow. That's some kind of dedication! -- and a bit more commitment than I am willing to make for a bowl of soup!

Looks delicious though. I need to befriend someone who will make it -- and share!

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