Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recipe #2: French Onion Soup in Sourdough Bread Bowls

I had never even tried French Onion Soup until about two years ago, when John ordered it at a restaurant. Since then, I make it maybe once every two months, but more frequently in the cold weather. I always like the way it turns out, it's simple, doesn't require a lot of ingredients, and with just the two of us eating it, this recipe gives us lunch/dinner for a few days! Please note -- wherever you see a (*) next to an ingredient or tool, there is a comment about it below the recipe. Enjoy!

French Onion Soup in Sourdough Bread Bowls

Cooking time: 45 minutes

You'll need:

2 quarts beef broth (tip: 1 box = 32 oz. = 1 quart)
5 sliced onions
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme*
3 garlic cloves*
1 stick unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup red wine*
1/4 pound Gruyere cheese (sliced or grated)*
2 round "peasant" loaves at least 7" wide*
salt and pepper to taste

large pot
bread knife
mixing spoon

Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, add onions, thyme, dash of salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent and slightly browned.

Add red wine and cook for 10 minutes, until wine has reduced significantly. Sprinkle flour and mix gently. Reduce heat to low-medium so flour does not burn. Once flour is absorbed, add beef broth and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste when serving.

To make bread bowls -- use bread knife to cut a hole in the top of the bread at an angle. (Note: you'll be using your hands to dig out more of the inside, so this won't look perfect.)

Leaving about an inch around the crust of the bread, pull out inside of bread. Be careful not to remove too much, or the soup could come through the sides of the bread.

Ladle soup into bread bowls.

Turn broiler on (if you don't have a "broiler" setting on your oven, turn your oven to 450 degrees, and move one rack to the top level). Sprinkle cheese on top of soup, and place filled bread bowls into an aluminum-covered roasting pan. Broil for 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and/or brown. Serve.

-Thyme: If using fresh thyme, use one sprig. The taste of dried herbs is much more potent than that of fresh herbs. Remove the sprig before adding the wine.

-Garlic: I don't usually use fresh garlic when I cook, unless it's going to be almost raw in the dish. What I use instead is a huge jar of Spice World minced garlic. It saves me the time of having to chop (and have my hands smell like) garlic for any given recipe. For this recipe, if you use the jarred garlic, use one and a half tablespoons.

-Wine: Generally, you shouldn't use wine you wouldn't drink. But that doesn't mean you have to buy expensive wine for this. Even a $10 bottle is just fine -- just stay away from the $3 variety, which is generally too sweet to cook with.

-Cheese: If you can't find Gruyere in the supermarket (it may not be available at the deli, but in the specialty cheese section), you can use Swiss instead. If like my husband, Swiss and Gruyere are both too bitter for you, you can use Provolone cheese in its place. Provolone (as you can see in the pic above) doesn't brown quite the same under the broiler, and has a tendency to sink into the bread bowl, but it does melt well in the soup.

-Bread: You don't have to use sourdough bread for the bowls, but it's a good contrast to the saltiness of this soup. You can use any loaf that has a good solid crust on it. If you use a bread that has too soft an outside, you could end up with a huge mess when you go to ladle the soup in! Here's what the bread I used looked like before it was bread bowled:


1 comment:

pretty in ink said...

I Love frech onion soup, but normally I make mine a little different. It never seems to come out as good as I want it too.... Maybe the wine, and garlic are what Im missing! I could never figure it out! The bread bowl idea looks ddelicious! I love the bread bowls at Panera, but I was always afraid to pour soup into bread for fear that it would just be a huge mess! Cant wait to try this! Yummy!