French Onion Soup

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French Onion Soup

I started the New Year off with a road trip to Seattle with three of my friends and had a ton of fun!! We went to Benihana, a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant where your food is prepared on a hot grill in front of you. I have always wanted to go, and it was totally worth it. The chefs do some pretty crazy tricks with their super sharp knives and other utensils.

We also took a walking tour of the Seattle underground. Pretty much when they first built the city they did it too low and it was prone to flooding. So they built walls around 30 blocks of downtown buildings and their sidewalks and raised the roads between them. Picture a waffle. Then they created new sidewalks from the raised roads to the second floor of these buildings. Boom. Waterproofed. The city now has all these old corridors under the streets you can check out. It was pretty awesome!

We headed home Sunday afternoon. By the time we got home we had worked up an appetite and wanted something easy but home-cooked. We stopped by the grocery store and picked up 4 large sweet onions, a pack of dried porcini mushrooms, some good beef stock, a baguette and a block of Monterey Jack cheese.

I started by peeling and slicing the onions and placing them into a hot pot with ¼ cup of olive oil and 4 minced garlic cloves. The trick to really good French Onion Soup is to take the time and cook your onions. You want them to be very caramelized; dark brown is what you’re going for, and they will take about 30-40 minutes to get there on medium heat.

While the onions were doing their thing I steeped about 15g of dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water. I let them sit in the hot water for as long as possible. Just before the onions were done, I removed the porcini mushrooms from the water and mince them up. Don’t throw away the porcini broth, it will be deep brown in colour and taste like liquid gold. This is the ingredient that adds some real depth to this French Onion Soup.

Once the onions were cooked down enough, I added about 1/3 cup of red wine and cooked for a minute or two to deglaze the pot. Then I added the porcini broth, minced porcini mushrooms, and 2 teaspoons of minced fresh thyme. I then let everything combine into a thick soup. Once it came together I thinned the soup out with 1 litre of really good beef stock. I then brought the soup up to a boil and then reduced the heat to low and simmered for 20-30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering away it’s the perfect time to get your toasted baguettes and cheese ready. I set the oven to broil and sliced 3 slices of baguette per person. I like to slice my bread to be about 1” thick. I drizzled some good olive oil on both sides of the bread slices and then placed them on a sheet tray. Into the oven they went for 2 minutes on each side to toast. You need to flip them because you’re using the broiler, meaning heat is only coming from the top of your oven.

Now it was time to assemble the goods. I took 4 oven-proof bowls and ladled in the soup. I then laid 3 slices of toasted baguette on top of each bowl of soup, sprinkling lots of shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top. The easiest way to get your soup into the oven is to place the bowls onto a sheet tray. I tucked them into the oven under the broiler for 8 minutes. The broiler blasts top of the soup, melting the cheese and forming a cheese crust on top of the soup.

After 8 minutes, I removed the tray from the oven and allowed cooling for a minute or two before eating. Just before serving I sprinkled a little fresh minced thyme on top. The heat from the soup warmed the thyme, making it smell phenomenal!!

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