February 10, 2017

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

When my husband and I first got married we had regular date nights at the advice of others that had gone before us. Having no kids back then you’d think every night was a date night, but we are workaholics and social athletes, so time alone and unplugged had to be prioritized. Fast forward several years and a small handful of children later, and our date nights have become more important and harder to fight for than ever.


...if you aren’t twisting your spoon repeatedly to catch that cheese pull from falling on your lap, then something has gone terribly wrong...

While I have an abundance of local family to beg, barter and steal babysitting hours from sometimes I still just want to stay in. Lazy? Probably. Cheap? Not entirely. Homebody? Most definitely. I'm all for fine dining (trust me, I’d drain our bank account on eating out if I could), but sometimes I just don't want to sit in a stiff chair feeling the pressure of a line out the door waiting for our table. Sometimes I like to be in my house, in my sweats, shower optional and without the interruptions of the server, even if this means I have to cook my own food.

French onion soup has been and will always be one of my favorite dishes when it comes to decadent comfort food, and with Valentine’s Day coming up, this is as good a time as any to share this amazing recipe for the perfect “date night in dish.”

This recipe is inspired from one of my favorite restaurants in New York, Balthazar’s. I love their delicious take on this French bistro classic. Simple ingredients, elevated to produce incredibly rich and decadent flavors. What sets this recipe apart from all others? The cheese. While some recipes opt for simply adding a cheesy piece of toast atop a bowl of slow simmered onions, that definitely isn't the case here. I know when I have French onion soup, I want to be taken back to my 19 year old self, fine dining in NY for the very first time and forcing my spoon through inches of bread and cheese to get to a flavorful broth. In my opinion, if you aren’t twisting your spoon repeatedly to catch that cheese pull from falling on your lap, then something has gone terribly wrong with your French onion soup and it has no place at your dinner table.

This Valentine's Day (or any day for that matter) you can feel good about your choice to skip the crowds, because staying home means you'll have the chance to make this perfect French onion soup, and layer on as much cheese as your heart desires. Your loved one(s) will thank you, and you'll thank yourself as you slurp through that decadent broth. Whether it's a date night in or just a regular ol’ Tuesday, nothing says “I love you” like a home cooked meal.

French Onion Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 medium onions, sliced in 1/4 inch rings
1/4 cup +1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove thinly sliced
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (more if desired)
1 tbsp sea salt
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups good quality beef stock
1/2 cup port (or 1/4 cup cognac)
6 slices crusty bread cut 3/4 inch thick
3 cups grated gruyere or comte

Method

  1. In a medium sized dutch oven, or heavy bottomed pot with a lid, warm oil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium/low, add onions and cover for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook the onions, stirring often, until a nice golden brown color is achieved. The caramelization process should take about 30 minutes, don’t rush it.
  2. Once the onions are caramelized add butter, nutmeg, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 10 more minutes.
  3. Increase heat to high and add wine. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add stock, bring to a simmer and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Remove thyme and bay leaf. Swirl in port, or cognac depending on which flavor you like more.
  5. Preheat broiler.
  6. Divide soup into 6 oven proof ramekins, or bowls. Top each serving with a slice of bread and ½ cup grated cheese.
  7. Place under broiler until cheese is bubbling and, about 3-5 minutes. Garnish with some parsley or thyme, serve hot.
  8. If you are making this for two, freeze the remaining broth for future use.

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