The first time I ever had French Onion Soup was in 10th grade. Our French teacher took us on a cultural field trip to a French restaurant, and one of my friends ordered it. I would not have been so adventurous. She told me to try it, and as an obliging teenager who only trusts her friends, I did, and it was a taste revelation! I just couldn’t get enough of the gooey cheese, the crusty bread, and then hidden underneath it, that dark, caramel broth filled to the brim with soft, caramelized onions. Heaven.
Cut to last night. I have wanted to make this soup for ages. But I had to wait until I got some earthenware that I could use in the oven to melt that amazing cheese. So a couple of months ago I purchased two Le Creuset soup bowls, not only are they functional, they are pretty gorgeous too. (I love Le Creuset by the way, but this isn’t a post about them.)
Also, as I have mentioned before, I have a gazillion cookbooks, and hardly ever get to use them. So I adapted the French Onion Soup recipe from my Williams Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook. But I didn’t want just a French Onion Soup. I wanted the depth of Spanish ingredients. First of all, I took the time to make my own stock, but instead of making a plain beef one, I did a Chorizo Stock. This gave the stock a more golden reddish hue. And as I caramelized the onions, I added a heaping tablespoon of pimenton, Spanish Paprika, to give it a smokiness that is missing from the delicate French version. And lastly, I used Jerez, or sherry, instead of the wine. In the end, I think it was a total success, the new version had levels of flavour, from the warmth of the chorizo and pimenton, and then a unique nuttiness imparted by the Jerez. I hope you’ll be adventurous and trust me on this and try it at home!
So here’s what you’re going to need:
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Comfort Food
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 1/2 lbs. Onions, yellow, white, red….go crazy!
1 tbsp pimenton or smoky paprika
1 tbsp All purpose flour
1 cup Jerez (Sherry) or dry white wine
Chorizo Stock (recipe follows)
2 tsp minced Fresh thyme
1 Bay leaf
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 Crusty baguette
2 2/3cups shredded Gruyère Cheese
For the stock:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lb marrow and beef bones
1 spanish chorizo sausage
2 celery ribs, including leaves, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 swede or rutabaga, chopped
2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 large sprig of thyme
In a large stockpot, add the beef marrow bones and the chorizo and cook over med-high heat, for about ten minutes or the chorizo starts to lose some fat and color the oil. Add all the veggies, salt, bay leaf and thyme. Stir to coat and cook about 5 more minutes. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer vigorously for 30 minutes. Switch off the heat, cover and let steep for a good 2 hours.
To make the soup, in a large heavy bottomed stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, stir well, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, add the paprika, and reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir until combined. Gradually stir in the wine, then the stock, and finally the thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer, uncovered, until slightly reduced, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf.
Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Have ready eight 1 1/2 cup broilerproof soup crocks. Cut the baguette into 16 slices, sizing them so that 2 slices will fit inside each crock. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and broil, turning once, until lightly toasted on both sides, about 1 minute total. Set the slices aside. Position the oven rack about 12 inches from the heat source, and leave the broiler on.
Ladle the hot soup into the crocks. Place 2 toasted bread slices, overlapping if necessary, on top of the soup and sprinkle each crock evenly with about 1/3 cup of the Gruyère. Broil until the cheese is bubbling, about 2 minutes. Serve at once.