I don’t know who Henri is, but I would like to kiss this man. Since going vegetarian (ahem, pescetarian), I realized that enjoying the things that I used to like, i.e. French onion soup, usually contains things like beef or chicken stock. I was totally disappointed and was hoping to find another substitute for a soup base. I thought about experimenting with vegetable stock, but, to be honest, the dark, rustic taste of French onion would (I thought) be severely compromised by the addition of a vegetable base.
And, then, I found Henri. Oh, Henri. You have changed my world. Just kidding. I was just super excited to get the same great taste in a soup WITHOUT having to use a meat stock. And, even though the prep/cook time (at least 1 1/2 hours) was a little long, it was a rainy Saturday, and I had nothing else to do. The kitchen smelled amazing, I drank a (few) glass(es) of the dry white wine, and the end product was nothing short of one of the best crocks of French onion soup I have ever had. Here’s to rainy days in the summer……and to Henri.
Henri’s French Onion Soup
|3||pounds yellow onions, cut into 1/8-inch pieces|
|3||tablespoons unsalted butter|
|1/2||teaspoon table salt, plus more as needed|
|8||cups water , plus more as needed|
|1||tablespoon all-purpose flour|
|1||sprig fresh thyme|
|1/4||cup dry white wine|
|1||baguette , crusty|
|8||ounces Gruyère cheese-I sliced it thick and placed it over the top of the crock…..the cheese melted mostly into the soup and a little off to the sides, but it created a thick, even layer this way.|
- Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.
- Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Toss to evenly coat.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Take the cover off, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly browned. I cooked mine for a little less than 90 minutes.
- At this point, stir every 5 minutes and add water (a tablespoon at a time to loosen up the dark brown stuff that forms on the bottom of the pan).
- Continue to cook until the onions are an even dark brown color, an additional 30 minutes longer or so.
- Add the flour and stir for two minutes.
- Add 8 cups water and thyme to the onions and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add white wine and simmer 10 minutes longer.
- Add salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325 degrees and adjust a rack to the upper middle position.
- Cut the baguette into 3/4 inch slices and arrange on a single layer on a cookie sheet.
- Bake until the bread is dry, about 10 minutes. Remove bread slices and set aside.
- Heat broiler and place 6 heatproof bowls in a baking sheet. Fill each bowl with about 2 cups soup. Top each with two baguette slices and evenly distribute cheese slices over the bread. Broil until well browned and bubbly, about ten minutes. Cool for five minutes before serving. Barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated. (I’m on a roll…….)