made: french onion soup

(not my photo, sorry photo-author, I forgot to grab your credits)

I have been CRAVING French Onion Soup for about three weeks. Today I decided to make it. OMG, so good. This is the best onion soup I’ve ever made — the flavor was so amazing. I made notes about what I did and I gladly pass them on to you. Note: the soup was so good that you could eat it without the cheese if you wanted.

Here’s the link:

And here’re the modifications that I made:
About 2 1/2 pounds yellow, white, or red onions (I used four large yellow)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or good olive oil
3 cups beef or chicken stock (or vegetable, if you want this to be vegetarian)
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup brandy
fresh rosemary, thyme (optional)
1 teas paprika
2 tbls balsamic vinegar
2 tbls brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh artisan-style bread, cut in thick slices
Shredded Gruyere or Parmesan cheese (optional)
Dijon mustard
Knife and cutting board
Wide, deep skillet OR wide saucepan (should be at least 3 quarts)
Wooden spoon
Oven-safe bowls or mugs (optional)


1. Gather your ingredients. You should have about 2+ hours until dinner; this soup takes a while to cook.
2. Cut each onion in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moons. Slice these half-moons in half again. (See this video on knife skills and good form for cutting onions.)
3. Scrape all the cut onions into a bowl. You will have at least 6 cups of chopped onions — probably more. Don’t worry too much about quantities with this recipe; if you have an extra onion to use up, throw it in!
4. Cut a stick of butter in half, and then into a couple of big pieces.
5. Place your skillet or saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Let the butter melt.
6. After the butter melts and foams up, add the onions. Stir them to coat well with butter, and sprinkled them thoroughly with about a teaspoon of salt.
7. Turn the heat to medium low, and let the onions cook. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 45+ minutes. You can let them cook even longer — an hour and a half will give you deeply caramelized onions! Just let them cook, stirring at times, as you see dark color emerge. After 45 minutes they will look pale mahogany in color, like in this photo. You can let them get even darker if you like — just don’t let them burn or get black. Adjust the heat as necessary.
8. Once they are starting to brown (about 45 minutes in) add balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, paprika and brandy. Let cook down another 15 minutes or so. Then add herbs, if using.
9. As the onions reach a dark brown color, pull out your stock.
10. Pour in the broth  and 1 cup of white wine, and turn the heat up a little so the soup comes to a boil. Turn the heat down again and let it simmer for at least half an hour — longer, ideally!
11. Simmer until the soup has reduced a bit and is shiny and glazed over the onions.
12. Toast the bread. Once toasted, spread with a thin layer of dijon mustard. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls, top with the mustard-toast. Pile on the shredded cheese if using, and broil briefly until the cheese is melted and light brown.
13. Die of happiness.


Extremely Decent “Cheater” Matzo Ball Soup

I’m still sick, and am trying really hard to take care of myself. I like brothy soups but I hate, hate, hate canned brothy soup. Disgusting. I hate most canned soups, actually. I think they are vile. I’ve recently had some really very good matzo ball soup, but it was from an Oakland restaurant and that’s just too far to drive. So I made some. This turned out surprisingly well. I was going to do the whole boil-a-chicken thing to make the stock, but then I thought, “Am I crazy?” Sorry, it’s not even close to vegetarian, but I’m so run-down I don’t really care. I’d like to make a “real” version of this sometime but this turned out really, really good. Hoping it’s the magic cure for this rotten cold.

2 boxes (quarts?) Kitchen Basics regular chicken stock (this is the best pre-made stock, do not even bother with Swanson’s)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 stalks celery, including tops, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (I had these in the fridge, they were a welcome addition)
Some dried thyme (1/2 teaspoon?)
Some powdered ginger (1 teas?)
Some powdered coriander (1/2 teas?)
2 bay leaves
1 box matzo ball mix (which needs some oil and 2 eggs)
1 tsp salt (to taste)

Prepare the matzo mix according to the box. It has to sit for a few minutes, so do this first.

Heat some oil in a large soup pot. Add in carrots, celery, and mushrooms (if you are using them).  Saute for a few minutes. Add in minced garlic, saute quickly but don’t let it brown. Add in the two boxes of stock, and the spices. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.

Form walnut-size balls of the prepared matzo mix. Drop into the simmering soup and let it all cook for about 30 minutes.

Season to taste. Delicious.