Monday, March 3, 2014

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is one of my very favorite soups. I remember eating it for the first time at a little restaurant on the Rhine River called Noah's Ark in Wiesbaden, Germany. I was around eight or ten years old and my sister and I would get the French Onion Soup every time we had dinner there. It was served in shallow metal "skillets" that were always too hot to touch. There was a thick layer of cheese covering a thin slice of German bread and the cheese was always bubbly and golden brown from the oven and overflowing down the sides of the metal bowls.

With winter just not letting go this year, I am back in a soup kick. It was -1 degree here this morning after all!

1/2 cup (8 tbsp.) real butter, like Kerrygold
2 medium onions (red, yellow, or white), sliced thinly
4 medium garlic cloves, sliced very thinly or minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt (try this sea salt or Real Salt), to taste 
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine (try Columbia Crest Merlot)
1 heaping tbsp. of flour
1 quart (4 cups) beef stock
2 to 4 slices of Ezekiel sprouted whole grain bread, toasted & cut in fourths
4 thin slices Gruyère cheese (about 2 oz. total)
4 thick slices of Mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz. total)
How To:
1. Start Onions - Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cook until onions are soft and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

2. Finish Broth - Add the wine, bring to a boil, and then simmer until wine has nearly cooked off - about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and add the flour. Mix well and then add the beef stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes. Re-season with salt and pepper as needed.  
4. Add Cheese & Finish - Turn on the broiler and ladle soup into four oven-proof serving bowls. Place two to four pieces of toasted bread quarters on top and then cover with a slice of Gruyere and a slice of Mozzarella. Carefully set the bowls into the oven (you may want to use a tray or baking sheet) and broil long enough for the cheese to melt and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve, being careful when handling the bowls. They are super hot. Seriously.
This serves about four (or you could make six small servings) and takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. On a lark I thought I would try to find whether Noah's Ark was still around and I am beyond surprised to see that it is. I included the link above, which shows a picture of the building. I can say for sure that it has definitely been remodeled since I was last there! I remember the restrooms were around the back and it was really creepy trying to find them having to walk along the rickety wooden walkways in the dark. Of course, that is a child's memory now!

The restaurant is also mentioned briefly in the book Acceptance of Mediocrity by David E. Pullmann.
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This recipe was shared at Real Food Wednesday. Please follow the link for more great recipes!

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