it being the first of the year and all, this was to have been a recipe for hoppin’ john.
i was going to cook it for our january 2nd dinner and feature it here, but we had so many leftovers from saturday night that needed to be eaten instead.
hoppin’ john then has been moved out to next week where we hope eating it will still bring us a certain amount of luck and prosperity. in it’s place we have french onion soup.
a few years ago, my husband and i started the tradition of ringing in the new year by cooking together at home. this year, to go along with our prime rib dinner for two we fixed french onion soup sporting a brie crouton. i got the idea of using brie instead of the traditional gruyere cheese from a french restaurant here in town that features this soup regularly on their menu.
this recipe, adapted from the ultimate southern living cookbook is really quite simple and can come together within an hour, but the longer you caramelize the onions, and the longer you simmer the broth, the better it will taste in the end.
some other keys to success would be a really good brie (of course) and a nice dry white wine. the baguette is not necessarily a key to success, any will do, it is just there because it looks pretty in the picture.
first off, slice about five medium sized yellow onions. i’ve been told that a very sharp knife will help reduce the amount of fumes from the onions, and thereby the amount of tears. while i did have to step away once, i can verify that yes, the sharper the knife, the easier the task.
onions sliced, melt 1/4 cup of butter in a stock pot and add your onions along with about one tablespoon of garlic. keep the heat of the pan somewhere between medium and low and be patient.
don’t stir too often, keep the onions in contact with the bottom of the pan, and let them slowly caramelize. starting with something like this,
going to this,
and finally ending up with this:
i allowed my onions to caramelize for one hour. if, however, you are pressed for time it could be done in forty minutes, the flavor just may not be as deep.
now add your stock. this recipe calls for both chicken, and beef. i’m cheating here and using a carton but if you have the time to make your own stock from chicken and beef bones so much the better.
add the wine. start with 1/2 cup and add more to taste if necessary. we like a nice full bodied broth so we increased the amount in the end to about 1 cup total. we’ve used an albarino, but vermouth, or any dry white will do.
now add three sprigs of thyme (can you see them in there?), and let the whole thing simmer together for a minimum of 20 minutes but, as with the onions, the longer the better.
while that is simmering prepare your croutons.
now, i have a very small kitchen so my space has to be very carefully organized and for that reason i don’t have room for french onion soup crocks. i make my croutons in the broiler and drop them into the soup. it works fine for us and that is the method i’m showing here.
slice your baguette and arrange on a broiler tray. place under the broiler and watch it close. you want it dry and crispy but not burnt.
remove from the broiler, spread with the brie, and return to the heat until the brie is browned and bubbly. they look much prettier in real life than they do in this picture.
to serve, remove the thyme sprigs from the soup, ladle into bowls, and top with the croutons.
if you have a nice big kitchen and can afford space for onion soup bowls, prepare your croutons to the point of spreading the brie onto the baguette but don’t return to the broiler. instead, ladle your soup into the crocks, top with the croutons, and toast under the broiler until browned and bubbly.
this recipe will serve six.
french onion soup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 lbs. yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 T minced garlic
32 oz. chicken broth
20 oz. beef stock
1/4 c of dry white wine, plus more to taste
3 fresh thyme sprigs
salt and pepper to taste
1 baguette cut into six 1″ thick slices
6 oz brie cheese
melt butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat. add onion and garlic. cook slowly, stirring often until a deep golden brown.
add chicken broth, beef stock, white wine, and thyme sprigs. bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally for twenty minutes (at least). remove thyme sprigs and adjust seasoning to taste.
spread baguette with the brie and set aside. ladle soup into 6 oven proof bowls. top with the baguette. set broiler to hi, and broil 5 inches from heat until cheese is browned and bubbly.
~adapted from the all new ultimate southern living cookbook