The first time I made this recipe has to have been about 20 years ago. I found this recipe in a cook book that someone had left at my office in the lunch room. I’ve made a few changes over the years, but it is still quite close to the original.
I always make a large (8 qt.) pot of soup, that way we can divide it into smaller containers and freeze it. This way whenever you want soup you can just pull one from the freezer and heat it up. I find this better than a can of soup, at least I know exactly what’s in my soup.
To start off, thinly slice 16 onions (I use sweet onions, but you can definitely use a combination of whichever you wish). Saute these in a stock pot over medium high heat with some butter and olive oil. This will take about an hour for the onions to cook down and get to that caramel colour that you are looking for. (This is why I save these types of recipes for the weekend when I have a full day to make them). About 30 minutes in add in your salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.
Here’s where my recipe is slightly different from others. Add in 1 heaped Tbsp. of tomato paste. Yup. Trust me on this. Mix it with the onions and let it cook for a minute. Then add in the beef broth (3 litres), water (1 litre), Worcestershire sauce (about 8 dashes to 10 dashes) and cognac (1 cup).
Then comes time. Not Thyme, but time. Let it simmer on low for approximately 4 to 5 hours, with a tight fitting lid on the pot. You want it to simmer, but not reduce, so a tight fitting lid is essential here. (you can do this in a slow cooker, but I would definitely reduce the amount of cognac – my sister made this recipe in her crock pot and complained that the cognac was way too much. On the stove top the alcohol will cook off, in the crock pot it does not.)
Once it’s ready to go, give it a quick taste to see if it needs a little more salt or pepper and then ladle it into your bowls, top with bread and cheese and broil for a few minutes to get the cheese all ooey and gooey and golden brown. And enjoy.
French Onion Soup
(makes approximately 12 to 14 servings)
16 onions (sweet)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. salt
Pinch of sugar
1 heaped Tbsp. tomato paste
3 litres beef broth
1 litre water
1 cup cognac
8 to 10 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Bread and cheese to top the finished soup.
- Thinly slice onions.
- Heat butter and olive oil in large stock pot. Cook onions over medium high heat for approximately 1 hour. At about the 30 minute mark add in the salt and pepper and pinch of sugar.
- Once the onions have turned a golden brown (this could take slightly longer than an hour), add in the tomato paste and stir this into the onions and cook for 1 minute.
- Add in the beef broth, water, cognac and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for approximately 4 to 5 hours. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper.
- When finished cooking, you can finish in the oven with bread and cheese on top.
This also freezes wonderfully. (We freeze this in individual containers so when you want soup for one, just take one out of the freezer and heat up. So much better than the stuff in a can.)