Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. They were, throughout history, seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originates in France in the 18th century, made from beef broth, and caramelized onions. It is often finished by being placed under a grill in a ramekin traditionally with croutons and Gruyère melted on top. The croutons on top is reminiscent of ancient soups
French onion soup (Soupe à l’oignon) is an onion soup based on beef broth or beef stock traditionally served with croutons and cheese as toppings. Although ancient in origin, this dish underwent a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s in the United States due to a greater interest in French cuisine.
- 6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
- Olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups of beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two (traditionally the soup is made with beef stock)
- 1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 8 slices of toasted French bread
- 1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyère with a little grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the caramelization.
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, vermouth or wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavours are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.
- To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4-6.