Need help with French Onion Soup?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by abefroman, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. abefroman

    abefroman

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    I need some help with French Onion Soup?

    What is the best onions to use?

    What is the best cheese(s) to use?

    What is the best way to flavor the bread?

    If the soup will be the main course what else can I serve that will go well?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jim berman

    jim berman

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    Onions.... that's a subjective answer to a broad question. I often use leeks, Spanish onions and garlic. While traditionalists flavor their beef stock with red wine, I opt to accent the sweetness of the onions with white wine rather than add a contrasting flavor.
    Gruyerre is the classic cheese, while I have seen provolone or even Swiss used, as well.
    For the bread, I use crusty French bread that has been left to stale a bit and then brush it with oil and rubbed with a garlic clove.
    As for accompaniments... can you provide some parameters, so we could answer a little more specifically.
    Hope this helps.
     
  3. jeebus

    jeebus

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    Personally i use Vidalia onions for my soup, they are very high in sugar and caramelize well. French onion soup is all in the cooking of the onions, this will take a LONG time over very low heat. Think 2 hours minimum.

    As for cheese you can really use any cheese you enjoy. my favourite is with a non traditional 6 year old white cheddar.
     
  4. chrose

    chrose

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    I have to agree with Jim on this one and disagree with Jeebus somewhat. I don't think you need to cook the onions nearly that long. The cellular structure isn't so great that cooking past 20-30 minutes is really going to do much more softening. Not to mention that it's going to continue cooking during the addition of stock, and cooling down, reheating etc.
    I have always used beef stock and for wine I use Madeira. I use yellow and or Spanish onions and some garlic. I also add a little Thyme, salt and white pepper.
    For cheese I also prefer Gruyere and an old piece of stale french bread.

    Crepes and or a salad also make a nice accompaniment with the soup.
     
  5. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Personally, I just use Spanish or yellow onions for my French Onion Soup. The key to really good French Onion soup, IMHO, is in properly caramelizing the onions. I agree with Chrose, I don't feel it is neccessary to cook the onions for 2+ hours, but it will take a good amount of time to develop the proper amount of caramelization. This is were most people fail. They either don't caramelize the onions enough, leading to a weak flavored soup (again IMO) or they try and hurry the process resulting burnt, bitter onions. I look for a nice rich brown color and usually deglaze the pan a couple of times with just a couple tablespoons of water to keep the bottom from burning. As for the wine, I have discovered that I like a 50-50 mix of sherry and red wine for my French Onion Soup. I first deglaze and reduce the sherry, then add the red wine and reduce that. My soup also contains beef broth, garlic, thyme, salt, and a hefty dose of black pepper. For the bread I like toasted French bread and topped with either Gruyere or Swiss, and lots of it.

    I also make a wonderful creamy onion soup that is basically the recipe above with added cream, thickened with a roux and finshed with Gorgonzola cheese stirred into it. Not traditional, but absolutely heavenly.
     
  6. dickie

    dickie

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    Caramelizing the onions is a critical step. You want to cook them slowly on medium low heat - so they gently caramelize. The time is very dependent on the volume, but I would count on 45 minutes or so. Stir frequently so they cook evenly. If I want to make the best soup I use homemade beef stock. Roast the bones and spend the time... It makes a great soup.

    Dickie
     
  7. andrew563

    andrew563

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    I use a mix of sweet white and red onions and garlic.
    First I carmelize the onions , thyme, bay leaf, in a rondeau in olive oil.
    Then when they are almost brown stir in whole butter.
    then I add minced garlic and deglaze with port.
    Reduce the port and add a nice beef stock.
    Simmer to infuse the flavors.
    I top with a crostini with gruyere and brown under a broiler.

    I love this with a nice salad and some fresh fruit.
     
  8. liv4fud

    liv4fud

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    any vegetarian broth spins on this?

    love the soup but the only problem in making @ home is beef stock/broth..
     
  9. markv

    markv

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    IMHO

    IMO

    Translation please???????

    Mark
     
  10. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    IMO=in my opinion IMHO= in my humble opinion


    i use yellow onions,deglaze with some brandy, add white/red wine, beef and roasted chicken stock if I gots it, guyere or Emmenthalier...toasted bagette....and of all things dillweed.

    if it's my bowl I'm layering toast and cheese then pourring then soup on and topping with cheese and throwing it in the oven until it's got a crust. Ummmm now I know what I'm going to do with that 30 lbs of onions sitting in storage, got 4# of shallots too.....hmmmmm.
     
  11. chrose

    chrose

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    Shroomgirl forgive me for this, I am not trying to hijack the thread, I just have always wondered something. And now more than ever I feel the need to ask.... Does this picture mean anything to you?
    [​IMG]
     
  12. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    nope should it?
     
  13. chrose

    chrose

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    Apparently not. We now return you to the previous thread. Onion soup:lips:
     
  14. andrew563

    andrew563

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    in response to the vegeterian spin, I have done it succesfully using veg stock. I actually found it to have a sweeter flavor.
     
  15. liv4fud

    liv4fud

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    thanx for the encouragement.:bounce:

    I was worried that I would loose flavor as I would not have the beefy flavor

    was thinking if something like veggie stock boiled with some portabello (to get the beefy flavor) might do the trick?
    pointers welcome...
     
  16. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    that's exactly what I was thinking...add mushrooms to the stock.....do not add a sweet Sherry, liquor but maybe drier red wine.
     
  17. andrew563

    andrew563

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    I use the gill scrapings and stems from portabellos in veg stock.You get the flavor in the stock and can use the mushroom itself for another use.
     
  18. jeebus

    jeebus

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    20 -30 minutes is not long enough to properly caramelize onions and simmering them while it will cook them wil give you zero flavour unless the onions are cooked properly. I assume most here are fans of Mr. Kellers work yes? In his Bouchon cook book (which is not where my recipe comes from I just happened to be flipping through it) he recomends 5 hours. Nothing personal but I'll take his advice over yours.
     
  19. ma facon

    ma facon

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    The longer the better when carmelizing the onion, Just don't burn them. And a fine stock is just as important. :chef:
     
  20. chrose

    chrose

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    Nothing personal at all do what you like. Perhaps I understated the cooking time in my opinion by 15-20 minutes. Mine came from the hundreds of gallons I cooked over the years as it was a standard item on the menu where I worked for 3 years, and it always came out just fine for me (darn good in fact!). Most places don't have the luxery of taking up burner space and gas to cook onions for 5 hours which in my humble opinion is overly anal. His "advice" is his own personal method and doesn't make it any more correct than what I said or Pete, or Dickie, or Shroom or Mark said. Nothing personal here either.