French Onion Soup

Until this challenge, French onion soup was like gazpacho in our house... something that Q would order in a restaurant but something that I wasn't likely to make at home. But this week it was finally time to give it a try and leave it for the menfolk to eat while I was out for a prolonged, seemingly weeklong birthday celebration extravaganza. This recipe was so simple to pull together and filled the house with one of our favourite smells--slow-cooked, brown and golden, caramelized onions. One of my colleagues had warned me that the onions tend to get "ropey" in the soup but I soldiered on and had faith it would work out. How bad could it be, anyway, when topped with a slice of toasted baguette and some salty, nutty, melted Gruyere? Exactly. I took a quick sip as I was making it and loved the earthy flavour but was saving my appetite for dinner out so I can't qualify as a full critic. Austin ended up giving it just a so-so (I think he was ultimately hoping for a more substantial dinner) and although Q gave it the thumbs-up, the soup had basically lost its shine when reheated for him later in the evening. Definitely a dish that's best served fresh out of the oven. Live and learn.

French Onion Soup

serves 4

1 lb yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise

3 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups beef stock

1 cup water

half a baguette, sliced

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

In a heavy, large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add the onions, paprika, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavours to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to broil. Toast the baguette slices until crisp on each side.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into the ovenproof bowl, float the bread on top and cover with a thick layer of the cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is fully melted and golden.

Rest of the week

Oct 18 Leftovers; everyone fended for themselves

Oct 19 Mustard-crusted salmon with roasted broccoli, cauliflower and onions

Oct 20 French onion soup