CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — French Onion Soup

Anyone who grows a lot of onions in a summer garden knows that they will keep a long time in cool place over the winter months. But no matter how cool your spot is, the onions sooner or later will begin to sprout.

photo (38)We don’t have a really cold room where our onions are stored, but it’s good enough until about the beginning of February, which is where we are now. So, for me, that meant making some French onion soup.

I have a wonderful recipe, given to me by an old friend, Darrel Koehler. He calls it French-Finn Onion Soup, but other than his heritage (he’s half-Finnish), I can’t see any other reason for the moniker. The soup contains basically the same ingredients as most other recipes I’ve seen with the exception of a splash or two of Tabasco sauce.

I doubled the following recipe when making the soup a couple of days ago, which yielded about 2½ quarts. It was the perfect cure for a cold day (and an excellent pre-colonscopy treat before the procedure’s dreaded 24 hour starvation rule began).

French Onion Soup
6 or 7 large onions (sweet Spanish or yellow globe), sliced
½ stick butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cans beef broth
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, saute the onions over medium heat until translucent. Don’t brown. Salt and pepper lightly. Sprinkle sugar over the onions in the last stages of sauteing. Next, add the beef broth and stir well. Add a few more sprinkles of pepper and several drops of Tabasco sauce, bay leaf, garlic and dried parsley. Simmer for two to three hours on low. Taste before the last hour to adjust seasonings.
To serve, cut French bread into 2-inch chunks and toast in the oven. Place toasted bread in soup, cover with grated cheese such as mozzarella. Place under broiler to melt cheese and then serve.

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