A drunken onion soup, filled with flavors, thyme, wine and a final touch of brandy to warm us up on a cold winter day. Finishing it up under the grill to melt that tasty gruyere cheese on the crunchy piece of bread slowly getting soak with the soup.
To warm up our hearts before the heat comes, why not eat a tasty, french onion soup. Those are quite popular from where I’m from; Quebec… As one know, that place has an eternal winter and this soup helps them to keep warm. I find it always a bit tricky to eat those heavy soups as an appetizer, with the extra cheese on top… It’ s supposed to be a appetizer but I consider it more of a main meal. The french use quite a lot of butter in it, this version is lighter in butter. Also, in culinary school in Spain they made it slightly different, they add thyme and brandy, loved it. So my version here is a of mix from each places I encountered that delicious soup.
This soup dates from the Roman time, it comes from a long way back, the french version is quite famous but there is other versions throughout Europe and even Asia… with miso, etc. In my mind that soup must be extra dark, a nice dark brown and it needs to contain a lot of onions… clearly… but the most important part is the stock. In most “stock” meal, I believe the stock to be the key factor to a successful meal, so make your own stock and make it tasty! Also you can freeze some stock in ice cubes tray and keep those small amount of broth for future recipes. It’s always useful.
The difference between stock and broth… I usually use the word broth, but then again, on those chefs tv’s show they always use the word “stock” and finally Googled it: A broth is mainly made of meat parts, while the stock is mainly bone parts (meaning more tasty collagen). So… as my dad would say: “I’ll go to bed less stupid tonight” (french expression)
So here is my beef stock recipe for this soup, I made it with a flair of vietnamese “pho” style. Part one of the meal; the stock.
- 1 kg (2 pounds) of beef bones
- 1 cheap cut like hooves, knuckles
- 1 onion sliced
- 2 carrots sliced
- 30ml brandy *optional
- 4 anise stars
- 1 cinnamon stick
- small piece of fresh ginger with the skin (2-3cm)
- Add the meat in cold water, bring to boil, drain and rinse in cold water again. *optional to clean the impurities of the broth first…
- In your iron cast pot, add some olive oil, med-high heat, and brown the beef pieces
- Add the spices, vegetables
- Add the brandy, and scratch the bottom of the pan
- Add water until topping the meat by 5cm (2inch)
- Bring to simmer, leave on low fire for 4 hours
- Pass through a sieve and voilà!
Makes 4 portions
- 1-1/2 litre of beef stock
- 250ml red wine
- 5 big, sliced, spanish onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp flour or in my case I used 2 tbsp unsugared chocolate to thicken the soup)
- few thick slices of old bread *optional
- 50g grated cheese (gruyère) *optional
- 30ml brandy
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp thyme
- laurel leaf
- a good amount of pepper, salt
- In a big pot, add olive oil and the sliced onions and salt, cook at low heat for about 45 minutes (yes that long), until the onion become translucent
- Mid-way through the onions cooking time (step 1), add finely chopped garlic
- When the onions are ready, add the flour (if you choose that alternative) mix (1 minute)
- Add the stock, wine, spices and let simmer another 30 minutes
- Heat up the grill from your oven
- When the soup is ready, add the butter, brandy and chocolate (if you choose that alternative) to thicken the soup
- Transfer the soup into onion soup bowl, add the bread on top plus the gruyere cheese, a touch of black pepper
- Grill until the cheese is melted
- Serve on a wood piece or resistant cover
Serve on a cold day to warm you up. Enjoy!