By Cheryl Forberg, RD
Growing up in Minnesota, onions were a standard ingredient in my mother’s cooking. Though they never played a starring role, they were a consistent flavoring in her casseroles (aka “hot dishes”), roasted meats, salads and appetizers.
Years later, my younger sister and I moved to Hawaii to attend college where we succeeded in getting as far away as possible from bitterly cold Midwest winters. There, our eyes and taste buds were awakened by many new ethnic flavors. Polynesian foods were everywhere, but there were also many restaurants unlike anything in our region of the Midwest. Not only Thai and Vietnamese, but also Italian and French restaurants which were not to be found in the small towns where we grew up.
I distinctly remember our first lunch at a French bistro in Honolulu. We were still in college so we ordered the least expensive selection on the menu, French Onion Soup. I will never forget the thick layer of gooey cheese – so thick, it had to be cut with a knife. I’ve had many other versions since then, but none of them ever tasted quite as good as the first one.
I researched French Onion soup recipes recently, and created my own version, which according to my friends, is a home run. I hope you’ll like this too.
French Onion Soup
I was most inspired by a recipe created by Ina Garten which is absolutely scrumptious. I lightened up a bit by using a little oil instead of a stick of butter: ) and used whole wheat bread for the croutons. I like to make a double batch of the broth and freeze half of it for a quick weeknight meal. I have also tried freezing individual servings so that I can make one bowl at a time should a sudden craving arise!
Yield: Six 1½ cup servings (or 9 cups soup)
2 pounds (1 package) Melissa’s Sweet Yellow Onions
, peeled, halved, and sliced ¼ inch thick (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons Grapeseed or Olive Oil
1 Bay Leaf
½ cup Medium-Dry Sherry
½ cup Brandy or Cognac
1½ cups dry White Wine or Rose
6 cups Fat Free Low Sodium Beef Broth
2 cups Fat Free Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
½ teaspoon Freshly Ground White Pepper
6 slices of Whole Wheat Bread, cut into rounds, the same size as your soup bowls
3 ounces Grated Gruyere Cheese (Smoked Gruyere is fabulous!)
In a large stockpot sauté the onions the oil and bay leaf for 20 minutes, until the onions turn a rich golden brown color. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and brandy and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes.
Add the stocks, bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, taste for salt and pepper. Unless you used homemade broth, you will most likely not need any added salt.
To serve, carefully ladle 1½ cups hot broth into French onion soup bowls. (Measure your bowl first to be sure your bowl has the same capacity; otherwise, adjust to add more or less so that soup comes almost to the top of the bowl.
Place crouton on soup, sprinkle with cheese and carefully set soup bowls onto a sheet pan. Place under a preheated broiler, watching carefully, and broil until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve immediately.
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin C 10%