Classic French Onion Soup
This is not healthy food and there are no shortcuts; but boy is it worth it. French onion soup is probably my favorite soup. It is an indulgence. I don’t eat it often and when I do, I want it to be worth it. This recipe is worth it. In fairness, it’s not the soup that’s the indulgence. It’s the thick layer of bubbling and slightly golden brown Gruyère cheese that makes this classic a real splurge. People ask me all the time if you can make this soup “healthier.” The answer to that? No. You could skip the cheese, which would make it a lot healthier. But let’s face it: that’s not French onion soup.
I vividly remember the day in culinary school when I learned how to properly make this French classic. It was life-changing. Credit for creating this soup is often given to King Louis XV after he found himself stranded at a hunting lodge late one night with nothing in the pantry except onions, butter, and champagne: what followed was the creation of one of the most popular soups of all times. Although unconfirmed, it’s ironic that Louis XV, who historians consider to be one of the weakest and most ineffectual monarchs of his dynasty, perhaps created one of the most loved soups of all times.
Making French onion soup is not terribly difficult. It’s actually not all that time-consuming either if you skip making the broth like I do here (a good homemade beef broth will take about 12 hours), opting for a high-quality store-bought one instead. The real trick is how you cook the onions: slow and steady to achieve a lovely caramelization. That’s what gives you the irresistible flavor and richness that this soup is known for. Topped with crispy croutons and perfectly melted Gruyère, and you have a true culinary masterpiece that makes all those cold winter nights tolerable. In the height of the holidays and the busy baking season, this soup brings me comfort and needed serenity and for that I’m thankful.