Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rosie Makes Julia's French Onion Soup.


 Whenever the weather is cold, cloudy, and rainy,
my thoughts and appetites turn to soup.
I wanted a French Onion Soup,
to be exact,
so I turned to the source
- la grande dame herself -
Julia Child.

Soupe à l'oignon.
It's what's for dindin.

This recipe is from
by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck.

I love the first sentence in the foreword:
This is a book for the servantless American cook who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children's meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat.

That pretty much sums me up -
I'm a servantless ne'er-do-well loser
 with nothing better to do than eat.

If I just had some servants,
life would be so much easier.
I need minions.
Hell, I'd be happy with just one minion.

Ahh, but I digest.
Back to le soupe.

 I went foraging in the utility room freezer
and found a quart of beef consommé.
My very last quart!
I have over a dozen quarts of shrimp,
chicken, and turkey stock,
but we don't eat much red meat,
so I'm woefully low on beef stock.

 I also found a package of Schwan's Baguettes
 a wonderful product to have on hand,
if you can't make your own bread
or don't have time to.

Onion Soup
(Recipe halved from Julia Child's Soupe à l'Oignon.)

about 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 TB butter
1 TB oil 
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 TB flour
1 quart beef consommé or use canned or boxed beef broth, boiling
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onions very slowly over low heat with the butter and oil in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes.

Uncover, raise heat to medium low, and stir in the salt and sugar.  Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.  Scrape the goodie bits up from the bottom.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

Off heat, blend in the boiling consommé.  Add the wine and season to taste with freshly ground salt and pepper.

Simmer, partially covered for 30-40 minutes, skimming occasionally.

Set aside uncovered until ready to serve.  Then reheat to the simmer.

I baked a three-pack of Schwan's baguettes. 
375 degrees for about 13-15 minutes.
After cooling, I sliced one baguette diagonally to make the crostini.  
Drizzle the slices with your favorite olive oil and pop under the broiler until nicely toasted.
Turn slices over, drizzle, and broil until golden brown.
Rub each piece with smashed and peeled garlic clove.

Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée

Swiss Cheese, cut into slivers
raw onion, minced 
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss, or Swiss and Parmesan
1 TB melted butter 

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Bring le soupe to a boil and pour into ramekins. 
Stir in cheese slivers and raw onion.
Float the crostini on stop and sprinkle grated cheese over top.
Bake for 20 minutes, then set for a minute or two under broiler to lightly brown the top.
Serve immediately.

I'm perfectly fine with stopping right here and digging in; however, if you want the final French filip, à la Julia, then you must try the deluxe model - a version enriched by the addition of egg yolk and enhanced by Cognac.

Soupe Gratinée des Trois Gourmandes
(Soupe l'Oignon Gratinéed de Luxe)

1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
 3 TB Cognac

Beat cornstarch into the egg yolk, the the Worcestershire and the cognac.

Just before serving the soup, lift up an edge of the crust with a fork and remove a ladleful of soup.  Ina thin stream of droplets, beat the soup into the egg yolk mixture with a fork.  Gradually beat in two more ladlefuls. 
Again, lift up the crust, pour the mixture back into the soup.  Then reach in under the crust and stir gentle to blend.

I wasn't too sure about this part, so I only used 1 TB of the Cognac.  Not yet a true devotee of the fortified spirits.  And it wasn't Cognac precisely.  I had brandy in my liquor cabinet.  I looked it up and found out that brandy is named after the Dutch term "brandjiwin."  It defines a spirit distilled from wine or fermented juice and aged for at least six months in oak casts.   A brandy can be made anywhere in the world.  A Cognac can only be produced in the Cognac region of FranceTechnically, all Cognacs are brandies.  The only brandies that are Cognacs are the brandies produced in Cognac.

 I used two large onions.

 Slice thinly.

 Melt the butter with the oil.

 Add in the onion slices.

 Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

 My onions are relaxed and sweaty.
Can you tell that's my favorite spatula?

 Add in a teaspoon of salt.

 And a 1/4 tsp of sugar, for browning.

 Cook the onions over medium low heat, stirring frequently.

 Always remember to scrape up from the bottom.
That's where all the flavors are.

I'll be cooking the onions, low and slow,
until even, deep, golden brown.

  While the onions are languishing,
I turn my attention to the baguette.

I drizzled some olive oil over top
and popped under the broiler until golden.

 Meanwhile, keep stirring the onions.
 And scrape up the goodie bits.

 You want the final product to look like this.

 My baguette slices have toasted on one side
and I'm turning them over.

 Drizzle with olive oil.
Back under the broiler until golden.
Watch carefully.

 Left are my onion slices.
Right is my beef consommé,
over heat, coming to a boil.

 Take a smashed, peeled garlic clove
and gently scent the crostini.
 Looking and smelling good.

 My beef consommé is exquisite.

 Add in 1 1/2 TB flour to the onions
and cook for 3 minutes.

 Remove onion mixture from heat
and add in boiling consommé.

 Add 1/4 cup dry white wine
to the onion/consommé mixture.

I have grated Swiss and a mild Parmesan
along with the chunks of Swiss
and some minced onion.

Everything's ready to assemble:
Soupe à l'Oignon.
Swiss and Parmesan cheeses.
Minced onion.
Brandy mixture.

Add a little chopped raw onion.

Add in Swiss chunks.

Top with baguette.

More grated cheese.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Run under the broiler for a minute or two
to brown the top.

At this point,
I would have been happy to stop right here;
however, Julia's recipe calls for one extra embellishment.

If you like brandy and want an extra richness
in an already excellent soup,
then you might want to try this final filip to the soup.

I prefer it without this.
Just saying.
My palate is not as refined as I have believed it to be.
Or maybe it is,
and I just don't like the brandy
because it's not snooty Cognac!

Soupe Gratinée des Trois Gourmandes
 1 tsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Lea & Perrins
3 TB Cognac

Add the cornstarch into the egg and whisk.

Add in the Worcestershire sauce.

I only used 1 TB of the brandy, NOT 3.

Mix brandy mixture to combine.
Just before serving, lift up an edge of the crust
and remove a ladleful of hot soup.
In a thin stream of droplets,
beat the soup into the egg mixture with a fork.
Gradually beat in 2 more ladlefuls into the egg mixture.

Again, lift up the edge of the baguette
and stir in a little of the brandy mixture.
This is Julia's Soupe à l'Oignon de Luxe
Bon appétit, indeed!

As the temperatures dipped into the high twenties,
this soup hit the spot.
Gave my tummy the warm and fuzzies.

Num yummy!

Serve on vertical stripes.

Or a purple kitchen towel.


Lea said...

Mmm, that looks so good. And perfect for the weather....high of 20 today. And that's the warmest it's been in 4 days.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

We're at 28 degrees right now, Lea. Coldest so far this year. And that soup was goooooood. Hit the spot.

Made pho today, which was excellent.
Tasted authentic. Will blog about it later.

Lea said...

Mmm. Love Pho too. I'm going to try Smitten Kitchen's soup she posted last week. It was a sausage, lentil, and chard one. I think maybe Monday or Tuesday. I usually do soup once a week in winter.

tammy kennon said...

OMG that looks SO GOOD, I'm salivating. Yum.

I stopped in to say thanks. I've been getting regular visitors from kitchensaremonkeybusiness. So thanks!


Rosie Hawthorne said...

Hi, Tammy. Thanks for stopping by. I've been enjoying your travels immensely. Say hey to Chip for me.

Hopefully, we might get some snow today in KDH. Or I could always drive over to Currituck where the storm will probably stop.

Unknown said...

Can you tell me what the difference in taste is with the "luxe" version? I made the original version this week and loved it. Is the extra step necessary? Is it creamier? Thicker? Better? Thanks for your help!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Makayla, I was just fine with the regular version without the egg and brandy. It's a richer version and, I think, unnecessary. If you like the taste of brandy or cognac, then try a small batch with it and see if you like it.