GCC: Menu 13 - French Onion Soup and Spinach, Pear and Endive Salad

This is the last menu of the year for the Gutsy Cook Club.  So far we have done 29 dishes making up 13 menus.  The Gutsy cooks have been tremendous in their participation.  The diversified menu chosen by the last 3 home chefs have given each of us the opportunity of cooking things we love, tasting new ingredients and techniques, and trying new things, some of which have pushed their comfort zone.  I could not have been more proud to cook along with such a great group.  One, which I know will continue to grow and get gutsier as we work our way thru the Kitchen Bible Cookbook.

When I started this cook-along club, my main goal was to meet other home chefs that were willing to ride along with me and have fun and share our twist and turns of the whisk.  I say we have done well for 2010 and I’m looking forward to the New Year, with such great menus in the horizon I know we will continue to have a blast.

But this year, we closed off with Raymond’s last choice – French Onion Soup and a Spinach, Pear and Endive Salad.  Once more, I choose to do the soup and skipped the salad.

I love French Onion Soup, mainly because one of my favorites all time cheese is Gruyere, so anything that is slobbered with this melted deliciousness is front in center in my cooking gamut. 

There is no rocket science to this soup. The big thing is the cooking down of the onions and once that gets done; it’s pretty easy sailing from there. I used sweet onions, replaced the called Brandy for Marsala, simply because I thought I had brandy in my booze cabinet and when I went to look I was wrong.  So after much pondering, I figure Marsala wine would do the trick, it also did not help that it’s freaking 40 degrees outside and there was no way I was going out there to the liquor store. 

Side note: Sorry, to the folks that are under a gazillion feet of snow and freezing their butts off with low temperatures - I know I’m a total wimp and should be glad that I only have to deal with forty degrees.  But, I live in Florida for a reason, and it isn’t because of cold weather *wink*.

The other variation that I tried was with the croutons.  I decided that everything is always better with a kick and the toasted bread was no exception.  So, after I toasted them and rubbed the garlic over them, I also spread a bit of Dijon mustard for a tang, I loved the flavor that it gave the dish.

French Onion Soup
Serves 4 – adapted from The Kitchen Bible

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1½ lb onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups hot beef stock
  • ¼ cup brandy (I used Marsala wine)
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 4 slices French baguette, about ¾ in (2cm) thick, toasted
  • Dijon mustard (my own addition to this)
  • ½ cup Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese, grated
  1. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft and then lower the heat to low, press a round of wax paper over the surface (or cover) and cook for 40 minutes, uncovering and stirring occasionally, until the onions are a rich, dark brown. Watch carefully to avoid scorching.
  2. Meanwhile, toast your bread.  Place in a baking sheet and with the oven at 300 degrees toast until nice and brown, remove and put aside until the last step.
  3. Remove the wax paper and stir in the wine. Increase the heat to medium and boil, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the wine reduces to a glaze. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the brandy (or Marsala) and season to taste.
  4. Place the broiler rack 8- inches from the heat, and preheat the broiler. Divide the soup among 4 flameproof bowls. Rub the garlic clove over the toast and spread some Dijon mustard.  Place a slice in each bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese and broil for 2–3 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and golden. Serve at once.

Our overall verdict was positive all across the board.  This rich, full-bodied soup is perfect for cold weather.  It hit just the right spot and warmed us right up.  And I don’t have enough words to describe the oozy, gooey, melted Gruyere and it’s wonders.  So, if you are under snow, cut a couple of onions and pull your soup pan, this one is a keeper.

As always, you can check out the Gutsy Cooks creations by clicking on their blog links