Back in the 70's when I lived in Missouri while attending the Kansas City Art Institute, followed by two years in New Jersey where my husband took a job just outside of NYC, and finally the past 26 years in St. Paul, Minnesota, I have been visited almost every year by Renate -- a childhood friend from my hometown of Amana, Iowa.
I look forward to these reunions. Not only do I get to see Renate and hear about what she's been doing lately, but also because I take a break from the every day -- which means I get out of my kitchen. During a visit in April, Renate and I spent a morning at an antiques flea market and an afternoon at a craft fair. We also spent a lot of our time dining out at different restaurants in different parts of the Twin Cities. In fact, we stopped at a local "French Bistro" three times -- one time eating dinner at the bar, another time lunch in the dining room, and the third for appetizers and drinks on the patio. On one visit we both had a bowl of French Onion Soup, which led me to ask... Why don't I make this more often?
When Renate returned home and I was again spending the days in my kitchen, the first thing I made was a big pot of French Onion Soup. And for the recipe, I turned to Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, of course.
Another Paris Moment, I'd have to say...
"The onions for an onion soup need a long slow cooking in butter and oil, then a long, slow simmering in stock for them to develop the deep, rich flavor which characterizes a perfect brew. You should therefore count on 2 1/2 hours at least from start to finish." J.C.
FOR 6 to 8 SERVINGS
• 1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced yellow onions
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon oil
• A heavy-bottomed, 4-quart covered saucepan
Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 minutes.
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar (it helps the onions to brown)
Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.
• 3 tablespoons flour
Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.
• 2 quarts boiling brown stock, canned beef bouillon, or 1 quart of boiling water and 1 quart of stock of bouillon.
• 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
• Salt and pepper to taste
Off the heat, blend in the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct the seasoning.
Set aside onion soup, uncovered, until ready to serve. Then reheat to the simmer.
• 3 tablespoons cognac
• Rounds of hard-toasted French bread, spread on one side with grated cheese and sprinkled with drops of olive oil. Browned under a hot broiler before serving.
• 1 to 2 cups grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
Just before serving, stir in the cognac. Pour into soup cups over the round of bread, and pass the grated cheese.
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