French Onion Soup
In today’s post we’re going to reveal our French Onion Soup secrets in this Unknown Chef exclusive recipe!
When it comes to the world’s best onion soup recipe, I believe Hubs has this hands down! He’s an onion aficionado and honed this recipe for years.
Hubs had to experiment and eat a lot of bowls of French onion soup to settle on one recipe.
The best onion soup is made with not one variety of onion, but two! And lots of them!
You’ll need a profuse amount of onions to make this recipe and once you chop them, it takes a long time to cook them down. However, your patience will be rewarded. That’s because there’s a lot of flavour in caramelization and you can only achieve that with time.
The secret is to use red onions in combination with either Spanish or Vidalia.
There are plenty of onion soup recipes advocating white wine over red wine and vice versa. But nothing compares to the robust flavour of Port.
When Hubs was studying for his chef’s certificate, he took two courses to learn about wine. Port was a clear winner for this recipe because it fits right in with the sweetness of the caramelized onion. Choose a port you love and you can't go wrong.
Using unfiltered apple cider amps up the bold rich flavour of this onion soup. Keep layering on that flavour!
UPDATE: a few people have mistaken apple cider for apple cider vinegar. There is NO vinegar in this recipe.
While gruyere is traditional in onion soup, a rich, creamy, nutty cheese like fontina will balance the robust flavour of this soup.
Hubs has made a vegetarian version of this with vegetable stock, but I don’t consider that version the world’s best. On the other hand, a combo of beef and chicken stock really clicks. The secret is to use homemade stocks, where possible, for best results. We always make homemade chicken stock from scratch, but have admittedly cheated with a powdered beef broth on occasion.
Skip the Bread
Growing up, every restaurant I ordered french onion soup in served it with bread and cheese floating on top. Of course, I loved the cheese; hated the soggy bread. No matter how you time it, the bread never holds up.
So what’s the substitute? Crack an egg on top, broil it and melt the cheese over that. The yolk from the egg adds extra creaminess and it won’t go mushy.
Follow this recipe and you’ll end up with a deep mahogany flavour bomb. For the two different types of onions select the 5 biggest ones; the bigger the better.
When cutting the onions, be sure to form your fingers into a ‘claw’. When the knife butts up against your knuckles, you can’t accidentally cut your fingers.
Hubs used to stir the egg into the soup, like an egg drop soup, but now his preference is to leave the egg whole. Adjust the recipe any way you like it, or leave it out altogether!
Once you crack an egg in, cook it then add the cheese, put it back into the oven until it’s bubbly.
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French Onion Soup
- 5 large Spanish or Vidalia onions
- 5 large red onions
- 3 TBL butter
- 1 cup port wine
- 10 oz beef stock
- 10 oz chicken stock
- 10 oz apple cider unfiltered (NOT VINEGAR!)
- Bouquet garni: thyme sprigs bay leaf and parsley wrapped in a bundle of cheesecloth
- Eggs one per serving
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1 cup fontina or gruyere cheese grated
- Cook to an even, deep golden brown - not black or burned!
- Trim the ends from each onion, then slice in half from top to bottom. Remove peel and finely slice into half moons.
- Set electric skillet to 300 degrees and add butter. Once butter is melted, add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the skillet. Put lid on. do not stir until onions have sweated down for 20 to 30 minutes.
- After 30 min. remove lid and keep stirring occasionally until onions are dark mahagany and reduced to approximately 2 cups. This should take about 45 min. to 1 hour, stirring often near the end to avoid burning.
- Add port wine to cover onions and continue stirring until wine is reduced to a syrup consistency. Add chicken and beef broth, apple cider and bouquet garni. Reduce heat and simmer 15 - 20 min., then remove herbs.
- Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.
- To serve, ladle soup into oven proof bowls. Crack an egg into a cup. Either lightly stir and pour onto top of hot soup in bowl or keep egg whole. Repeat for each serving.
- Broil in oven or toaster oven until egg is cooked. Top with grated cheese, lightly broil again until cheese is melted and golden brown.
- The Unknown Chef Tips:
- Make soup one day ahead to allow to thicken in fridge
- A large deep electric frying pan with lid is essential for this soup. Fill the pan with onions above the brim so lid just fits to make a thick soup.
- Freezes well; store flat in zip lock freezer bags
- Ensure soup is hot before adding egg to cook it through
- Smoked cheese works well too as a substitute
- Taylor Fladgate or Grahams LBV Port are good choices… serve a small glass with soup and enjoy!