Happy 100th Birthday Julia!
Last summer we visited The National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. I was thrilled to find they have a permanent exhibit of Julia Child’s kitchen. Donated by Julia herself in 2001, the exhibit features her actual kitchen including her six-burner Garland range, a wall of her copper cookware, even her kitchen table. It brought back so many memories of watching her show with my parents. Julia was the quintessential culinary goddess. Never will we have a chef with such unparalleled enthusiasm in the kitchen. To quote, “The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.” I wonder if food TV would be the same today if there wasn’t a Julia…
If there was one recipe that compelled me to buy my own copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, it would be her French Onion Soup. I could have borrowed my mother’s worn copy with all of my childhood crayon scribbles, drip marks and stains but I needed my own copy. I remember sitting with my mother while she cooked when I was very little. She’d ask me if I wanted to help her in the kitchen – I’d say yes and then proceed to color in her cookbooks. Mastering was the book she was always using, so alas, it got the most abuse from me. I’ve adapted this recipe from the Master herself.
If you have ever carmelized onions, you know that to do it right takes at least 30-45 minutes. I hate to see a recipe that says carmelizing onions takes only 15 minutes. It’s not possible! To make this soup, you’ll need patience and at least two hours to reach full deliciousness.
INGREDIENTS (Makes a lot of soup, I guess 6-8 servings)
- 7 medium/large yellow onions, halved and sliced (not too thin) into 1/2 moons (about 12 cups)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 4 tbsp flour
- 10 cups beef stock
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 4 tbsp cognac
- 2 cups shredded swiss cheese (who knew you were suppose to use Swiss?)
- Parmesan for sprinkling
- Garlic croutes
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and cook, covered over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring periodically. I know it seems like a lot of onions, but they shrink down to nothing.
Uncover and sprinkle with the sugar and salt. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently for about 30-40 minutes until evenly golden. You don’t want the onions to burn, so watch your heat.
Sprinkle with the flour and stir continuously for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock and wine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes longer. You can skim off any foam that forms on the top of the soup as you go. Add the cognac, stir and taste for reseasoning – viola! It’s done!
HOW TO MAKE GARLIC CROUTES
- 1 baguette, hearty slices
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lay slices of baguette in a single layer on a sheet pan. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until crisp. Remove from the oven and rub each slice lightly with the halved garlic clove, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
PUT IT ALL TOGETHER
Ladle the soup into oven safe bowls. Float a croute in each bowl, top with shredded swiss cheese and sprinkle with parmesan. Place bowls under the broiler (watching carefully) for a quick minute or two until the cheese becomes bubbly. Enjoy!
BEYOND AMAZING FRENCH ONION SOUP!