Mom’s Famous French Onion Soup

My oldest son Jayden was home sick from school today, so I thought I would make him some soup.  Jayden’s absolute favorite soup that I make is my French Onion.  I have to say it tops pretty high on my list of favorites too.  Perhaps because it is topped with loads of gooey cheese…yep that plays a big part.  Actually recently Jayden and I were out with friends for lunch here in Bonnyville, and we both ordered the French Onion soup…and sadly we were both dissapointed – big time..it tasted like the broth was made with beef bouillion cubes (please don’t use those for this recipe) and it was soo salty I could feel myself retaining fluids with every bite.  Then they floated a couple of tasteless croutons on top…and maybe put a couple of tiny shreds of cheese….I really can’t stand paying for terrible food like that.

Anyway, this is definately a better version than that.  I picked up (long ago) some French Onion Soup bowls from a garage sale…they are handy to have around if you enjoy this soup as much as us.

The key to a great French Onion Soup broth is to cook the onions slowly, allowing them to slowly caramelize – this brings out their sweetness and really makes all the difference.  So be patient – turn the heat down a bit, and give yourself a good 1/2 hour to cook your onions down.

Ingredients:

 – 4 large Onions, sliced fine (my onions were small so I used about 6)
 – Thyme Sprigs (Fresh, about 2-3)
 – 1/4 cup Brandy
 – Butter (about a Tbsp)
 – 1 Tbsp Wortchestire Sauce
 – 7 cups Beef Stock (good stock not bouillion cubes) – the stuff in the boxes at the stores is good – get the kind without msg (check your labels) and I also buy the reduced sodium version
 – salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I use sea salt or kosher salt)

Onions cooking down – what they should look like when done
In a large saucepan over medium to medium low heat, melt butter and put in all your onions, along with your thyme sprigs (I don’t bother to pick off the thyme leaves, I just pick out the sprigs at the end) and some salt and pepper.  Cook…over low for about half an hour until the onions are caramelized (just starting to nicely change color).  Once the onions are ready increase your heat to high and add in your brandy.  Stir with a wooden spoon scraping any onion bits from the bottom of the pan.  Then add in your beef stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or so to allow the flavours to meld.

Ladle the soup into your soup bowl (oven proof ones), I put a slice of toasted french bread (toasted really well, the drier the better) on top and then mound freshly grated mozzarella cheese on top, with a little dusting of some really good parmiggiano reggiano cheese and a tiny drizzle of olive oil.  Place on a sheet pan under the broiler for a minute (be careful not to burn) – or if your broiler element is not working (as mine wasn’t) crank your heat really high and leave them in for about 15 minutes until your cheese is brown and bubbly.  Enjoy!

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