This is a no stock French Onion Soup! Xavier told me the story of being a stagiaire (intern) in the south of France when he was a teenager. As a culinary student á L’école Hôtelière, he had been taught to use a beef stock….though as he reiterates, in very limited amount. He was doubtful about the outcome of the soup without the stock. But no more. He is totally converted, and me too. This method pays homage to the onion. And can be done in 35-40 minutes. Once you understand the caramelization process and the ‘flip’, you will be a master. The second thing that I think is masterful in this recipe is not using a sliced crouton for the topping…use a diced crouton. I always found it a struggle trying to cut through a slice of crouton with the right amount of cheese. More than once I have had that cheese slap me on the chin….no more.
This recipe is for two of these classic bowls with a bit left over. Enough for dinner. Use smaller bowls and you have 4 as a starter, or lunch with a salad or sandwich. See my notes at the end of the recipe for more suggestions. In fact, you should read the complete recipe and the notes before you do any preparation.
Merci to Martha and Art at The Extra Ingredient for sending me a photo of our favorite pan. Read more about this reasonably priced cookware here.
FRENCH ONION SOUP (Soupe à l'oignon)
- 2 TBS NEUTRAL OIL
- 2 YELLOW ONIONS (yield 400 grams when sliced)
- 2 TSP MINCED GARLIC
- 1 1/2 TSP SUGAR
- PINCH SAVORY
- BAY LEAF
- FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG 2-3 PASSES
- FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
- 1/3-1/2 CUP WHITE WINE or ROSÉ DIVIDED
- SALT & FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
- COMTÉ CHEESE
- Trim onion being sure to remove sprout. Cut onion into quarters then slice lengthwise into 1/8" slices.
- Add oil to stir-fry pan that has cover. No heat yet. See MJ dishes it out below for why this pan will be your best friend.
- Add onions, garlic, sugar, savory, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Toss. Over medium high to high heat, cover and begin to cook. DO NOT STIR>DO NOT USE UTENSILS. It will break the onions. It is the art of the flip that is important. See video. As the smell of caramelization starts, do a flip. Caramelization should be well under way at 8-10 minutes and you should have done 2-3 flips during this time. Push it to the max before each flip. Keep covered except when flipping.
- Add 2-3 TBS of the wine to loosen browned bits. Cover. Over next 2-3 minutes, do a couple flips. Heat is still medium high to high. (Know your stove) Add remaining wine. Pan is ALWAYS covered unless doing a flip (see video link). Caramelization borders on burn.
- When wine is pretty much evaporated, add 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes then add second cup of water. Cover. Simmer a few minutes.
- Taste for seasoning. For best flavor, cover, allow to cool completely. Serve later.
- Cut baguette into 1/2" cubes. Toss with neutral oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place in preheated 300 degree oven until just dry.
- Add hot soup to oven proof bowl. Top with croutons and grated comté cheese. Place under broiler until gratinéed. Or place under broiler to melt then use torch to brown.
- We love this non-stick stir fry pan... for this and many other recipes. The surface is amazing. It is non-stick but gives a great sear. Use it as a saucepan. Use it as a skillet. Use it as a soup pot. It is the 'go to' pan, and #1 pan shape, in both our kitchens. It will make you a master of the flip. Here is a link to THE PAN!
- In the 8 second video, Xavier demonstrates 'the flip' . You might want a practice round over the sink.