Friday, March 20, 2015

Taking It Slow

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

I've always been a fan of french onion soup and its gooey cheese crust and toasts soaked in that rich, savoury broth.  I can't remember my first time tasting it but know that I used plenty of packaged versions whipped into sour cream to make the best chip dip ever.  Maybe I used one of those packages to actually make into soup and enjoyed it, because I do recall trying to make it from scratch with a friend when I was probably about ten years old.  I doubt a recipe was used and the beef stock was some powdered kind that my mother had in a jar.  I remember standing on a chair to have a better vantage point over the top of the soup pot and pouring a lot of that brown stuff in. Although we enjoyed it, it was a super decadent concoction, and we knew it as it was going down.  Neither of us felt very good after, and the next day, my friend gave me a rather candid report of exactly what it did to her guts.  It's taken me about thirty years to try making it again.  I'm happy to report that no gut wrenching pain came out of this one, but only tummy loving pleasure.  What inspired me to make it again was a slow cooker version from Chatelaine magazine.  Being on spring break, it's been all about taking things slow, and getting back into home cooking.  This recipe fit into that perfectly.  And, taking it slow never tasted so good. 

Recipe for Slow Cooker French Onion Soup (Makes 4 servings):

  • 1.75 kg cooking onions, thinly sliced (about 14 cups)
  • 3 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp vermouth or dry white wine
  • 900 ml beef broth*
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 demi-baguette
  • 1 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups grated gruyere or emmental

Place the onions, cubed butter and salt into your slow cooker and season with freshly ground pepper.  Cover and cook on high until onions are soft and dark brown.  This takes about 4 to 5 hours.  Then, stir the flour in until well combined and add the vermouth or wine.  Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the pot.  Add the broth and water, then cover and cook on high for another 1 and 1/2 hours.  

Position an oven rack in the top third of your oven.  Preheat the broiler.  Cut the bread into 8 slices of a 1/2 inch thick.  Butter both sides and place on a baking sheet.  Broil each side for about 1 minute or until golden. 

Place 4 oven safe bowls onto a baking sheet.  Ladle the soup into the bowls and top each with two toasts.  Sprinkle them generously with cheese.  Broil for about 2 to 4 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.  

*I used bottled organic Better Than Bouillon beef base this time around - none of that powdered brown stuff ;o)