One of my first real jobs was at Mimi’s Cafe – I worked there for nearly 3 years, ate their food every day and never got sick of it. For those of you who have worked in restaurants before, that’s saying a lot: I got sick of the food at The Cheesecake Factory in about a week.
I think the reason I had such a pleasant time at Mimi’s was their vast array of soups and salads. Their French onion soup was amazing and as an employee we were able to eat as much as we wanted, no questions asked. I would have some on my shift break and bring more home from work for the next day – it worked out wonderfully and I grew a love for delicious French onion.
I had never made this traditional soup before but recently found a recipe in Cooking Light and decided to try it. Aside from the lengthy process (from start to finish, it takes about 2 hours) I was pleasently surprised with the extreme lack of work it required. A few walks into the kitchen to stir the pot and before I knew it I was enjoying a comforting bowl of French onion soup.
I did have one minor slipup, which happened while using my mandoline to julienne the apple. I was in a hurry (what’s new?) slicing away and hacked a huge chunk of my thumb right off. The whole corner of my thumb was gone and I was bleeding everywhere: on the cutting board, on the apples that I had sliced, all over the sink… everywhere. Our kitchen looked like a crime scene and I was hopping around in agony. It wasn’t a cut but a huge slice through numerous layers of skin on the tip of my thumb right up to the nail as if someone had gone to hack my thumb off and only grazed the tip. It didn’t stop bleeding for 30 minutes and when it did it killed. Oh, and the worst part? When I was using the mandoline I was slicing right into the dutch oven, so the thumb went in there too. Grant and I are now cannibals.
Anyhow, the thumb stopped bleeding and I finished my soup; thankfully it was a simple recipe with very few steps. It was amazing and I’m so happy to have finally tried to make this soup I love so very much. It’s flavor was robust, light and dense all at the same time and it had just the right ratio of soup to onions to bread. Enjoy!
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter;
- 2 pounds yellow onion, sliced;
- 1 tsp black pepper;
- 1 pink lady apple, peeled and cut into thin julienned strips;
- 3 thyme sprigs;
- 2 bay leaves;
- ½ cup madeira;
- 8 cups beef broth;
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar;
- ¼ cup apple cider (apple juice would work, but cider is best);
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar;
- 10 slices sourdough bread cut into 1 inch cubes;
- 8 oz sliced Gruyere cheese.
- Melt butter in large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Continue cooking 50 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping along bottom to loosen burned bits. Add pepper, apple, thyme and bay leaves – cook 4 minutes. Add wine and cook additional 2 minutes. Add broth, apple cider vinegar and apple cider and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes. Discard bay leaves and stir in red wine vinegar.
- Meanwhile: Preheat broiler. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer along rimmed cookie sheet and broil until toasted (about 1 minute), then turn over and toast other side. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees. When soup is ready ladle evenly among ovenproof bowls. Top with croutons and sliced cheese and place on rimmed pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. (Alternately, you can do this step using a toaster oven, it works great) Enjoy!