Wednesday, January 6, 2016

French Onion Soup

10-12 lbs mixed onions (I used Vidalia/Yellow/Red mixed depending on what's available)
750 ml white wine (semi-dry Chardonnay or Springgate's Susquehanna Sweet White)
1 qt natural apple cider
2 gallons beef broth
Olive oil
Sea Salt

A bouquet garni composed of several sprigs each:
  Bay Leaves

For serving:
Toasted bread
Shredded cheese

You will need two stock pots. One to preheat the stock and a larger one to actually make the soup.

Peel and cut onions in half. I use a food processor slicer to slice all of the halves into thin slices.

Add beef broth to a stock pot and slowly bring to a simmer while cooking the onions. Since I usually have my beef broth frozen, starting this now gets it ready for when I need it later. If you have unfrozen beef broth, this still helps get the soup boiling faster when you assemble it in the large stock pot.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat (I have a 15" Lodge cast iron skillet for this.) When hot, add Olive oil to coat the bottom. Fill the skillet half full of onion slices. Sprinkle on about 1/2 t Sea Salt. Add another layer of onions and salt again. Allow the onions to heat up and begin to fry a bit. Be patient. You want them to caramelize slowly to a dark mahogany color without burning. Once you begin to see color on the bottom, gently roll the pile to put uncaramalized slices on the bottom. Keep going, slowly stirring until the entire batch has softed and caramelized.  Remove that batch to your unheated large stock pot to hold for now. Repeat with the rest of the onions, one batch at a time.

On the last batch of onions, once they have caramelized, add the apple cider, stir to deglaze the skillet and let simmer to reduce by at least 1/2.

Continue to stir while adding the bottle of wine, then allow to simmer to reduce by 1/2 again.

Add the contents of the skillet to the rest of the caramelized onions. Add the preheated beef broth as well. Assemble your bouquet garni and put it in the stock pot as well (I use a large tea ball to keep the herbs all together and out of the soup.)

Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour (longer if you wish). Simmering integrates the herb flavors into the soup.

Prepare to serve:
Fill an oven-ready bowl to within 1/2" of the top. Add a piece of toasted bread and cover with cheese (I prefer Gruyere, but also like the taste of aged sharp Provolone or good Swiss cheese.) Place bowls on a baking sheet and put under the oven broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.

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