Soup & Sandwich Week: Deconstructed French Onion Soup

Soup & Sandwich Week: Deconstructed French Onion Soup

Laura and I both like doing these look-back posts where we pick out favourites of the year. But it’s really impos­si­ble this year. There are so many great images cre­ated by our won­der­ful Maya Vis­nyei, so many recipes we’re proud to have pub­lished and so much great feed back from all of you. But I’m going to pick this one for two rea­sons. It was one of the first reader-requested posts. We’ve been chat­ting with all of you more on Face­book and find­ing out what’s most use­ful to you. When I asked about soups I got so many responses I’m still work­ing my way through them! Aaaand the other rea­son is that my jeans are so tight from the Olympic-level eat­ing I’ve been doing that soup is the only thing I can face now! — C.M.

I’m a soup lover in a house of soup doubters. Ben thinks he doesn’t like soup, but actu­ally does and the kids… well, they’ve both entered a phase of pro­found sus­pi­cion of any­thing new. Do you see how hard it is for me? I could have  a bowl of soup every day. And my friend and bril­liant nutri­tion­ist,Theresa Albert, assures me soup is one of the best foods for your health. When it’s a healthy soup, not only can it include mul­ti­ple serv­ings of veg­gies but it fills us up in ways other foods don’t. A meal that starts with soup will end up con­tain­ing fewer calo­ries than one with­out because you’ll be sat­is­fied sooner. Of course, calo­rie counts aren’t an issue for kids as young as mine but, hey, this is a site for the whole family!

When I asked SPC read­ers which soups they’d like us to cook up (we fre­quently ask ques­tions like that on our Face­book page if you want to have more input — we love hear­ing from you!), fre­quent guest Natalee Caple sug­gested French Onion soup, which sev­eral other read­ers imme­di­ately agreed was a great idea for this time of year. I love French Onion soup — love the earthy broth and the stringy, melty cheese — but won­dered if it was kid friendly enough. I can just imag­ine my kids plung­ing a spoon into the bready-y lid and send­ing soup all over the show. So, I McGyvered this slightly to make it eas­ier to man­age. I chopped the onions into smaller pieces and cubed up the bread that tops the soup. I also blended a bit of Parme­san cheese together with a more tra­di­tional Gruyere because I knew I’d get atti­tude about full on Gruyere. But per­haps your chil­dren are less sus­pi­cious of new cheeses?

We all loved this soup. It’s per­fect for a cold win­ter week­end after you’ve been out play­ing in the snow. In fact, it may be good enough to con­vert even soup skeptics…

SOUP & SANDWICH WEEK: DECONSTRUCTED FRENCH ONION SOUP

Laura and I both like doing these look-back posts where we pick out favourites of the year. But it’s really impos­si­ble this year. There are so many great images cre­ated by our won­der­ful Maya Vis­nyei, so many recipes we’re proud to have pub­lished and so much great feed back from all of you. But I’m going to pick this one for two rea­sons. It was one of the first reader-requested posts. We’ve been chat­ting with all of you more on Face­book and find­ing out what’s most use­ful to you. When I asked about soups I got so many responses I’m still work­ing my way through them! Aaaand the other rea­son is that my jeans are so tight from the Olympic-level eat­ing I’ve been doing that soup is the only thing I can face now! — C.M.

I’m a soup lover in a house of soup doubters. Ben thinks he doesn’t like soup, but actu­ally does and the kids… well, they’ve both entered a phase of pro­found sus­pi­cion of any­thing new. Do you see how hard it is for me? I could have  a bowl of soup every day. And my friend and bril­liant nutri­tion­ist,Theresa Albert, assures me soup is one of the best foods for your health. When it’s a healthy soup, not only can it include mul­ti­ple serv­ings of veg­gies but it fills us up in ways other foods don’t. A meal that starts with soup will end up con­tain­ing fewer calo­ries than one with­out because you’ll be sat­is­fied sooner. Of course, calo­rie counts aren’t an issue for kids as young as mine but, hey, this is a site for the whole family!

When I asked SPC read­ers which soups they’d like us to cook up (we fre­quently ask ques­tions like that on our Face­book page if you want to have more input — we love hear­ing from you!), fre­quent guest Natalee Caple sug­gested French Onion soup, which sev­eral other read­ers imme­di­ately agreed was a great idea for this time of year. I love French Onion soup — love the earthy broth and the stringy, melty cheese — but won­dered if it was kid friendly enough. I can just imag­ine my kids plung­ing a spoon into the bready-y lid and send­ing soup all over the show. So, I McGyvered this slightly to make it eas­ier to man­age. I chopped the onions into smaller pieces and cubed up the bread that tops the soup. I also blended a bit of Parme­san cheese together with a more tra­di­tional Gruyere because I knew I’d get atti­tude about full on Gruyere. But per­haps your chil­dren are less sus­pi­cious of new cheeses?

We all loved this soup. It’s per­fect for a cold win­ter week­end after you’ve been out play­ing in the snow. In fact, it may be good enough to con­vert even soup skeptics… 

pho­tos by Maya Vis­nyei

French Onion Soup

2 onions
1 clove of gar­lic, minced
2 Tbsp but­ter
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
salt and pep­per to taste
1 Tbsp flour
4 cups stock (I used a low sodium chicken stock but many recipes call for beef)
1 Tbsp bal­samic vine­gar
half a stick of baguette
1 cup or so of grated Gruyere and Parme­san mixed.

pho­tos by Maya Visnyei

Method

Trim the ends off the onions and peel off the papers. Cut each onion in half length­wise and then lay each half down flat on your cut­ting board. Now slice those halves into the thinnest slices you can — mind your fin­gers! Depend­ing on the size on your onions, you might even want to chop those rings in half.

In a big pot or Dutch oven, melt your but­ter and toss in the onion slices, minced gar­lic, sugar, thyme and pinch of salt and pep­per. Give it all a lit­tle stir and then let it sweat over medium low heat for 15 to 20 min­utes. Stir and turn over the heap of onions every few min­utes to make sure it’s all cook­ing evenly. The onions will become very soft and caramelized but watch they don’t get too dark.

Sprin­kle the flour over the onion mix­ture and stir it together. It will make it look a bit sticky. Now add the vine­gar and a cup of stock. Stir well, scrap­ing the bot­tom of the pot to deglaze all the good­ness that will be stick­ing there. Add the rest of the stock. Allow to sim­mer for about 10 min­utes, although it could bub­ble away longer if you need it to.

While your soup is sim­mer­ing away you can get the sand­wich part going. Turn your oven onto broil. Cut the bread into about inch thick slices. Cut as many slices as bowls of soup you’ll be serv­ing. Lay them out on a cookie sheet and now put a layer of the cheese mix on each piece of bread.

Pop it all in the oven on a high rack and keep an eye on them. You want the cheese to melt and bub­ble and the bread to brown but not burn, obvi­ously. I’ve heard sto­ries of peo­ple who get dis­tracted by Twit­ter and burn meals.… Any­way. Pull the bread out of the oven and let it cool a bit. Once they’re cool enough to han­dle cut the bread into large crouton-like cubes. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a slice of bread’s worth of croutons.

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