Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Barbara's French Onion Soup

serves 4 - 6

½ -1 stick butter
1 TLBS cooking oil
6- 8 large Vidalia (or sweet) onions, peeled and thickly sliced

1 TLBS unbleached white flour
1 large can chicken broth
5 cups water and 5 chicken *bouillon cubes

2 TLBS brown sugar
2 TLBS sugar
1/2 tsp molasses

1 lb cheese: suggestion – suggestion - combination of Swiss, Colby and Mozzarella four thick slices French bread pan toasted on one side for each bowl. Traditional French Onion Soup recipes often call for Gruyere Cheese, but many French Onion Soup recipes adopted by other countries make their own suggestions, such as grated Parmesian, mozzerella or Swiss. Whatever tastes the best probably the best.

*Bouillon can be replaced by a few TLBS soy sauce (to taste) which will give the broth a rich flavor as well as a deep golden-brown color.

In a large kettle melt butter with cooking oil (oil prevents butter from burning) over low heat.
Add onions. Cook over medium-low heat. Cover and stir occasionally. When the onions become translucent and golden brown, add sugar and molasses mixture or brown sugar, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat to prevent sugar from burning.

Mix flour, and 2 C chicken broth in blender until smooth. Turn heat on low and slowly pour flour-broth mixture into the kettle, stirring constantly. The flour will thicken the soup as it cooks. As soon as this happens, begin to slowly add the remainder of the broth. Continue stirring. Turn heat off and allow soup to sit.

Pan toast four thick slices of French bread or another favorite bread. Pour hot soup into four soup bowls about ¾ full. Place toasted side of bread down on soup. Layer slices of cheese on top of of bread. Place under broiler until cheese bubbles. Serve immediately.

Serving suggestions: This can be a light meal or served as a prelude to a meal. Serve either way with glass a favorite red wine: A hearty Cabernet is a fine compliment to this soup.

©Wilma Carolyn Johnson Short

NOTES: The summer after I graduated from college, I needed a place to park myself along with my few belongings for a couple of weeks. I vagabonded in the neighborhood of my alma mater with various college friends who put me up (or put up with me) until it was time to drive to Chautauqua Institute for the summer with a friend who was Camp Director at Mission Meadows directly across the lake. (The trip from Chicago to New York is another story.) Barb, was kind enough to let me stay with her for a part of that time.

In the heat of a Chicago June, Barb made this soup. The ingredients struck me as rather unconventional, and I remember inquiring about the brown sugar as she added it to the pot. She told me that this was the way to make good French onion soup. I was certainly surprised by the outcome of the buttery sweetness melded together with the Vidalia onions in a superb soup base. I never wrote down the ingredients because I memorized the basics on the spot.

The chicken broth may be something I added later on, as well as using a blender. But regardless of the variations that take place over the years, this is one of the finest French onion soups I have ever tasted. I put it in the category of those specialties that I make once every few years mainly because of the high fat. Otherwise, I would be making it a lot more often.

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