An easy and safe way to top French Onion Soup that's just as good and hot without handling broiling bowls* of dangerously hot soup.
Recently I found myself with an abundance of onions. This profusion of onions and cold, snowy days resulted in an urge for a steamy, comforting bowl of French Onion Soup topped with cheesy, melty toast.
I looked through my recipe collection for the perfect recipe and had to ask myself, "How many recipes for onion soup do I need?"
The answer had to be, "Only one. The best one!" So, in my ongoing effort to de-clutter, I threw them all out but this one. My best one. The one I've prepared and altered over the years until I perfected it.
Recipe: Easy French Onion Soup (Serves 4 to 6)
4 medium-large onions halved and thinly sliced
4 TBS butter (or 2 TBS each butter and olive oil)
5 tsp granulated beef bullion*
1 quart hot water, plus 1/4 cup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Brie cheese, sliced**
French or sourdough bread, sliced
Mix the bullion granules (or powder) into the quart-and-1/4 cup of hot water. Melt the butter/oil in a large sauce pan. Add the sliced onions and saute until onions are coated. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1/4 cup of broth. Add the salt and cover the pan.
Allow the onions to sweat and simmer for about 20 minutes checking occasionally and stirring to be sure they're sweating and softening and not drying and scorching. Add a bit more broth if the broth has evaporated.
At the end of 20 minutes the onions should be limp and "pulpy". Add the rest of the broth, the Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Bring soup to a simmer.
Allow the soup to simmer gently while you prepare the croutons.
You'll need a slice of bread for each bowl of soup you're preparing.
Top each slice of bread with slices of Brie cheese to cover. Broil these in a toaster oven or standard oven set to "broil".
When the Brie is melted, puffy, and golden on top remove from the broiler onto a breadboard and use a sharp knife to press-cut into each slice to create the croutons.
Fill serving bowls with hot soup and using a spatula scoop up the croutons from each toasted, cheesy bread slice and slide them off the spatula onto the surface of the soup. Repeat for as many servings of soup as needed.
The croutons act as a "cover" and keep the soup hot while providing a hearty, tummy warming, palate-pleasing, and appetite-satisfying aspect to the soup.
*Many recipes for French onion soup require heat-proof ramekins in which the soup is placed under the broiler to heat the soup and broil the cheese-topped bread. The handling of broiling hot ramekins presents safe-handling issues and potential damage to the table and/or counter it's set on, not to mention those about to consume the scalding soup.
To avoid injury and damage I forgo broiling the soup via this particular traditional method.
**I have found that most packaged bullion is weak and flavorless. So I've switched back to powdered or granulated bullion. It takes up less space in the cupboard, keeps forever, and I can modulate the strength in recipes, as needed. Most powdered bullion contains salt, so be ready to reduce the amount of salt called for in most recipes.
***Most recipes for "French" onion soup call for Parmesan cheese. I ask myself why would one use Italian, Swiss or German, or other non-French cheeses on French onion soup?
The French are well-known for their fine cheeses so I began using Brie. It melts nicely, is creamy, puffs up and turns beautifully golden.
I will continue to experiment topping French onion soup with various varieties of French cheese until I find the one I think works the best but for right now I'm "into" the Brie!