Soupe À L’Onion

This hunk of Parm cost 16$, which seems like
a lot until you realise how much a shaker of
the gross dry stuff, and how much of this ended
up being able to freezer/fridge for later!

Ever heard of French Onion Soup? Well guess what? It’s only called that if you aren’t French (like moi). I’ve tried making it once before using a random googled recipe (which I fully recommend you do from time to time when you have a bunch of ingredients with no rhyme or reason to them haha), and it was good…. But since then I’ve tried to find an authentic, non-cheddar laden take on it. Turns out what I was searching for was an actual French recipe… for which my French cookbook is full of. Go figure!

Really simple, if you follow the directions exactly! So far this is however the priciest soup from the book that we’ve come across so far. I say pricey because of the rules we placed on ourselves (here), but I’m confident that you could do a decent frugal rendition of it.

We splurged and bought our first hunk of REAL CHEESE! No idea going in how to shred it, but it worked itself out; with only the slightest amount of flesh mixed into the pile of creamy-white parm curls :p

Something we normally do is omit the alcohol in most recipes, particularly ones that include a heaping helping. Not because we don’t drink (well, we don’t drink often or a lot I suppose), but simply because it is not the most frugal of purchases. This time however, we hit up our neighbourhood outlet and got a bottle of dry white wine, and a tiny bottle of cognac. I’m sure the staff thought we were nuts running around the store comparing prices and countries and generally looking like we were too young to even think about the store let alone enter and purchase. Rob was disappointed I was not IDd, I giggled.

Now, I couldn’t just open the bottle and glug it into the pot now could I? If I remember my PBS specials, Julia *always recommended having a glass while you cooked if it was included in the recipe. By *always, I may be thinking of one specific episode, in which she said you could if you were a raging drunk, but I digress. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Keep reading to discover why I was so wrong….

Chief ingredient in Soupe À L’Onion is surprise, ONIONS! I love the tangy veg; Rob not so much. This is actually where we saved money, and why we splurged on booze and cheese, as they were donated by my parents! That’s the funny result of the jumbled mess of characters they “text” me every now and then. Generally an excursion is planned—the last couple of which have been to help them pick vegetables out from the not-so-local farmer’s markets located outside of town. Let’s just say that I’ve got the next couple of recipes sitting in my crisper!

The full recipe called for 5 pounds of White Onions, which works out to be just over 5 cups depending on how you’ve cut them. Even for the most veteran of cooks, this can equate to a blubbering, slobbering mess all up in your face. Step away from the cutting board before that snot-stream falls on your perfect onions! Rob always runs away when I cut them, but when he has to do the dirty work himself he asks what he can do to prevent the crying that ensues.

Things I’ve known about from before:

  • Place your board over the front burners of your stove while you chop and turn on the back one. The chemicals from the onions have a decent chance of burning up before they reach your nose and eyes.
  • Light a candle immediately next to where you chop, as it works the same as the burner trick (though not as well I might add). Good for small-space choppers, and what I normally do if I’m chopping a goodly amount of the bulbs.
  • Hold an unlit (!!!) matchstick in your teeth (lighting end out), like if you were holding a couple nails before hammering. The chemicals in the match head are supposed to once again, burn up the crying ones before they can take effect.

A quick google search found:

  • Use a sharp knife, as it makes a cleaner cut thus preventing a lot of chemical expulsion.
  • Chill your onions in the freezer for 10-15 minutes beforehand. (Imma try this one!!)
  • Wear goggles or a mask (please send photos of this pleeeeeeease!!)
  • Wear contact lenses.
  • Cut it under water (this one seems kind of dangerous…)
  • Cut around steam, as it dissipates the gas.
  • Stick your tongue out, or cut with your mouth open to draw the gases into your mouth.

With all of those onions you’d think that it would make a crunchy, thick soup. However, 5 pounds of onions have so much water in them that they cook down to be almost nothing. You cook them separately, and for a long period, so that they caramelize and darken. That’s where the richness comes from!

5 Pounds at stage one of cooking down…

5 pounds at stage two of cooking down…

5 pounds at stage three of cooking down…
(notice the yellowing)

5 pounds at the final stage of cooking down…
(Remember to scrap the bottom goodies up
when you pour in the liquid!)

One baguette makes a bunch of
yummy little toasts!

Apart of the recipe is a collection of pieces of hard, crusty bread called croûtes (which literally means crusty). They are placed in the soup tureens before you pour the soup in so that they soften complete the onion soupiness. When I started them, I stopped down to ask Rob which version he wanted (as there was a variation that had cheese melted on them). I asked him what kind of croutes he wanted. Basically, my explanation led him to believe that he would be getting Caesar salad croutons covered in cheese in his supper,
which he was completely ok if not excited for. He’s a strange boy for sure 🙂

This version of Soupe À L’Onion gets a whole bunch of soup spoons and corks up! Did I learn my lesson about wine? Maybe, but probably not! What do you think of my endeavour? Do you have any of your own… or how about onion-cutting tips? Comment below and remember to subscribe so you know when a new posting is up!

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