Monday, February 1, 2010

Bouchon #2 French Onion Soup

The section on French Onion soup in the Bouchon cookbook goes on for 4 full pages. The narrative covers the importance of the ratio of onions to broth to croutons to cheese. There is even a warning that without the proper bowl, the ratio will invariably be out of sync.  Being a rather out of sync person I was ready to accept that, besides I didn't want to buy new bowls. There are 2 paragraphs of instructions as to how to properly cut the onions.. point being this is a very detailed how-to recipe. I wanted to halve the recipe and where I got stuck was no where in the 4 pagesof narrative  or in the ingredient list does he say the quantity of beef stock needed.  It's simply listed as Beef Stock pg. 319 referring to the recipe.  Hmmm... what to do? I consulted Jacques Pepin from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home as well as Virginia Willis from Bon Appetit, Y'all and Alton Brown from the foodnetwork website.  The general consensus was 5-6 c of stock to about half the onions that are listed in the Bouchon recipe. So that's what I went with.

That's about 6 cups of onions 4 TBL butter some Sherry Vinegar and a satchet of peppercorns bay leaf and thyme. In a heavy pot melt the butter and add the onions with about a tsp of salt. Cook over med low heat until the lquid is released, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Once the liquid has evaporated you need to reduce the heat to low and be consistent in stirring, you dont want to burn the onions.

The recipe says to cook on low for 4 hours to fully carmelize each piece of onion. Mine went about 2 hours and I was satisfied, besides supper time was approaching quickly. They really should have gone longer though. Stir in a little bit of flour into the onions and cook for a minute or so.

Add your stock and satchet and simmer until the liquid is reduced about 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare your croutons by slicing a baguette on the diagonal into 1/3 in slices, 2 for each bowl. Also slice your Emmentaler cheese and grate some Comte ( I used gruyere as a substitute). 

Brush the croutons with olive oil and sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt. Run them under the broiler until golden brown and flip and repeat on the other side.

When the soup is ready, ladle it into bowls, preferably ones with a lip edge, and top with 2 croutons each, don't push them down just gently lay them on top.

Then cover with cheese, enough to overlap the sides of the bowl. And sprinkle in grated cheese to fill in the gaps. All this goes under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Be Cautious!  The soup is very very hot, but yummy. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

See you soon

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