Soup season it’s here and the soup I’m craving: French Onion Soup, a classic of classics, deep mahogany broth, soft sweet onions, and that crusty bread soaking all the juices and keeping afloat the most amazing crusty cheesy cloud on top of the soup. A wintery elixir. There is something cosmic about a cold day and simmering pot of soup on the stove. The House is warm with a cozy smell, a sweater, some crusty bread, warming your hands by holding the cup is just one of the best feelings…wiiihkkk…Now can you hear the wicked record on the back?… I just remembered we live in Texas.
This “El Niño” is driving me crazy. Almost 6 months of summer here in Austin to much Summer for me I wish I could be in Yakutsk for the weekend and then come back to be able to appreciate this Texas weather… But for now I’m just in need of cool down so I can make soup, lots of soup.
Dreaming with cold weather while the thermometer reads 80 F… I’m making soup anyway…We will crank down the AC just for tonight and pretend it’s cold outside… Adjust your AC accordingly. Now with the right temperature (thermometer reads 70F), Lets cook!…
Well, here we are revamping the unrevampable, and I thought about giving this classic French onion soup a little twist. I used a bagel instead of the crusty bread. Yes, a crusty chewy pumpernickel bagel toasted, with a bellybutton that helps the steam escape from the soup and let’s the oozing cheese talk to the soft onions below. The good thing about using a bagel is that stays crunchy for longer and it madly absorbs the oniony broth. It is ridiculously good and satisfying.
Through out the recipe you will find a couple of tips and tricks that I’ve learned to use when making onion soup. I know they will help you make the best onion soup you can make, or to improve the one you already make.
For now, this is all what I can tell you about one of my favorite soups…
Just relax and cook. I promise all your efforts will be rewarded on the first spoonful, and there will be no words just slurps.
For this recipe you will need:
French Onion Bagel Soup
2 lbs small-medium yellow sweet onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white flour
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup extra dry Vermouth or any dry white wine of your preference.
1 generous splash of Sherry Vinegar
3-4 generous dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 cups Beef Broth sodium free* I like to use sodium free if store boughten.
2 dry bay leafs
1 sprig of thyme
1 teaspoon kosher Salt or Salt de Fume to give an extra layer of flavor.
4-6 cranks of fresh Black Pepper
2 Pumpernickel bagels cut in half . Sliver the closed end on each half to expose the grain of the bagel, and toast.
I choose Pumpernickle Ian choose Onion! any flavor that rocks your boat will work.
2-3 oz per person of Gruyère cheese shredded.
Buy the real deal, the imported one. I used a Swiss brand with a lot of earthy and nutty notes, it melted beautifully leaving a great crust. Go the extra mile its worth it. If you do not care for Gruyère, try some French variations like Comté or Beauford.
1.One of the most important things to remember when making onion soup its how to cut the onions.”Cut the onions in segments”. Against all french techniques on how to cut an onion, remove top and bottom, cut in half-length wise peel the outside coarse layer, then flat surface down facing the board, and slice lengthwise radially like thin orange segments about 1/4″inch or little less. See photo below. This step for me its crucial to make sure you don’t have onion mush as they caramelize and cook. Each segment stays soft and creamy with out disintegrating while soup its simmering away. I also like it this way so you don’t have long stringy slippery onion strings. Chose small to medium size onions, they are sweeter and friendlier on your spoon when eating.
2. Chop the onions, following the instructions above.
3.Bring to a medium heat a cast iron enamel pot, add butter and a glug of extra virgin olive oil. Add the sliced onions making sure to separate all the segments with your fingers. Toss carefully, lower the heat to medium slow, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir now and then.
4. Remove lid and stir; crank up the heat to medium high to evaporate most of the moisture, cook for 3-4 minutes stirring now and then to avoid onions from burning. You want to caramelize them. To help them caramelize add a tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar at this stage, and cook for another 5 minutes or until they look soft, and have develop their sweetness and they have a deep golden brown color.
5.Once the onions are caramelized, evenly sprinkle one tablespoon of flour and toss for 2 minutes scraping the bottom of the pan.
6. Add the Dry Vermouth the sherry vinegar, toss and let the alcohol evaporate.
7. Add the beef broth little by little stir constantly. Then, add Worcestershire sauce, aromatic dry herbs, salt and pepper.
8. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the onions taste and look soft and they have absorbed the flavors from the broth. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
9. Once soup its ready, divide the soup into 4 oven safe soup bowls. I used this special onion soup bowls with handles. It will be around 3 ladles of soup per bowl. Place the soup bowls into a baking sheet tray with a lip,(to avoid soup spillage in your oven. This will also make it easier to place the soups in and out of the oven.)
10. Then place half a toasted bagel into each bowl and top each with 2-3 ounces of the shredded Gruyère cheese. Crack some black pepper and place under the oven broiler for 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted and its crusty and golden brown. Watch at all times they can burn on a blink of an eye! Pull the tray out of the oven and place the bowls on an under plate before serving. Warn your guests for HOT bowls and extra hot soup.