Debbie Dance Uhrig
I was waiting to run this updated version of French Onion Soup until I test ran it one more time. In my first cookbook, ‘Simply Yours’, I have a very very simple recipe for French Onion. This one sort of’ blows my first one out of the water!
Probably the best thing about this recipe is how nicely it freezes. It also makes a great statement as an opener or main entrée. If it were being used as a main entree I might prepare a nice beef bruschetta to accompany. In fact, I’m going to attach two recipes this week because I think it would be a great pairing.
Let’s make note that in testing commercial beef stock was used. In the event you want this soup to taste even more decadent make your stock from scratch. You could prepare the beef, for the bruschetta, and have au jus for the soup!
Every time I’ve written a French Onion Soup column I have told the story you are about to hear: When I was growing up we went to St. Louis, Missouri to do our more serious shopping. We went to Northwest Plaza, (The Famous Barr store had a roof that looked like a toothpaste lid.) and enjoyed a full day of shopping. For this excursion we dressed nice, no heels, but not in a shabby style like we do in this era. When we first started going to this location we would grab lunch at the Walgreens café and enjoy French Dip sandwiches. Then as we got a bit older we started having a nice sit down meal at the Famous Barr restaurant. They had real napkins and the wait staff was dressed crisply in black and white. Everyone, it seemed, was eating the French onion soup. So, we joined right in and enjoyed the restaurants signature dish. The stringy cheese and au just would be dripping from our chins. As I recall, our mom, Betty, did not care for this soup near as much as my dad, Jerry, and I did. As you can see this soup has remained one of my favorites over the years.
The best onions for French Onion soup are sweets. Which means you can make the soup any time of the year. However, the sweet Vidalia onions in the spring are probably my favorite choice. If you had ‘candy’ onions growing in your gardens they would also be outstanding.
I closed out at Silver Dollar City on Friday and I’m already on my way to enjoying every minute of ‘off’ time. This week I’m helping a business owner/friend with their open house scheduled for Friday. There’s lots of baking to prepare and general food prep in getting the event ready to go. I’m also making serious stabs at getting ‘lots’ of cooking done this week, period. My brother in law leaves for M.D. Anderson in Houston, for treatments next week. I’ve made it my job to prepare kitchen fixings for the six week stay. Stocking the cabinets with a few staples and making dishes for the freezer and such.
One of the dishes I’m sending with the family to Texas is canned beef stew and homemade chicken noodle soup. It’s amazing what you can process in the big canners, in the way of pre-made foods. What I also like is it doesn’t take all the freezer space!
Since I’m including two recipes this week I’d better close out this column and save space for the recipes. Enjoy the warmer weather this week. Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com.
French Onion Soup
6 tablespoons salted butter
6 medium/large sweet onions or 3 lbs.
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chardonnay wine
2 heaping tablespoons flour
48 ounces beef stock
3 bay leaves
Swiss & Gouda Cheese
Baguette bread, cut into 1 – 2 inch chunks
*If you are using commercial stock it is very likely this additional salt will not be needed.
Slice onions horizontally into thin slices. In a large skillet or stockpot
Melt the butter and begin cooking the onion. Stir in the salt, sugar, pepper, thyme and Worcestershire sauce allowing the onions to caramelize. This take about 20-25 minutes. Now add 1 cup of dry white wine and totally reduce down until the onions are dry. Work the flour into the dry onions taking 10-12 minutes to work the flour taste out. Add beef stock and bay leaves stirring to smooth and lightly thicken. Allow to boil then reduce for a 20-30 minute simmer. Remove the bay leaves and stir in 1 1/2 teaspoon extra hot grated horseradish.
For serving place a chunk of the bread in the bottom of the bowl and pour in the soup. Using Swiss only, Gouda or both cheeses, layer slices across the top of the bowl. Place on a jelly roll pan and allow to melt in a 350 degree oven.
Serves 5-6 main course servings.
An easier approach is to place the bread of choice under a broiler with the cheese arranged on top. Cook until the cheese is melted and then float on top of the soup. This avoids cheese baking onto the soup tureens while it is melting.
Tip: The horseradish does not make the soup ‘hot’. If you are concerned put in 1 teaspoon, sample, and then add the remainder.
This soup freezes well!
Beef Tenderloin Bruschetta
1 loaf of fresh bruschetta or French bread
1/2 pound thinly sliced beef tenderloin or shaved roast beef
3-4 ounces Gruyere Cheese, shaved/shredded
Roasted Red Pepper, chopped fine
Butter flavored vegetable spray
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1//8 cup horseradish, ground
1/8 cup finely minced onion
Slice bruschetta into 12 nice slices. Place on a lined cookie sheet and spray lightly with vegetable spray. Place in the oven under the broiler 3-5 minutes and remove. Mix together the filling ingredients and spread a small amount on each slice. If the filling has been refrigerated and is not at room temperature consider warming it slightly before the meat is placed on top. Layer on thin pieces of cooked tenderloin or roast beef. Shred the cheese and sprinkle over the meat with a light dash of roasted red pepper. Return to the broiler and cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Times will vary depending upon how close the oven shelf is to the broiler, etc. Monitor the bread it should be around 5-7 minutes.
When my husband, Ervin, and I were first married we enjoyed bruschetta as the main entrée on hot summer nights.