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ONION based FRENCH style SOUP gratin {4 recipes}

Don't rush the ONIONS.
I really meant for any sumptuous, comforting soup.
Awakening our palates and warming our hearts with a...
variation of French style ONION soups.



Our Quebec winters have been incredibly unpredictable in the last few years.  
Where there had been a time with tons of snow...
the last years have brought on mostly icy surfaces.

Finally, last week, a small snowstorm fell upon our beloved nature’s path.
Up until very recently, Montreal has been anything but a wintry wonderland.
Mother nature has finally blessed us with a pristine, white blanket and I'm thrilled.
Certainly beats brown grass piercing through the icy patches.




 Now, once again, our properly set mild winter murmurs.
With its certain stillness...
I continue to gently trek steps through my beloved escape.


I've always conveniently believed that snow wipes the slate clean.
Any mistakes or 'faux pas' lately?
Well, then...join me and cover them up with a beautiful, fluffy snowfall.





We can now start all over again.
That's my secret to healthier living.
Well, at least I'm trying ;o)

With my hectic lifestyle and daily routine...
I'm always comforted with the constant, peaceful movement that nature provides.

Speaking of comfort and movement...
SOUPS are generally made weekly in my kitchen.
Several versions of French-style, onion-based soups have been tinkered with through the years.



Hearty, aromatic flavours from onion-based soups wake my senses from any possible hibernation.
Winter's icy edges melt away as oozing cheese does on soup gratin.
My two favourites in life are nature and the enjoyment of food.
How nice it is to connect this way.



Today, I thought it was time to share a few of my onion-style soups.
They have repeatedly pleased our palates and warmed our hearts.
First...
Lots of thinly sliced ONIONS...
cooked down to sweet perfection.
Spanish or Yellow onions are definitely in order for sweet caramelization.  
They hold little water and brown easily as they increasingly sweeten.
However, Red as well as White onions are also quite appreciated.   
Contrary to popular belief, the Vidalia is best not used in this recipe.  
It contains more water, thus making it harder to sweetly caramelize.

Double the cheese pleasure.  
I place thin cheese slices on the soup's surface before adding the toasted croutons.  
The finishing touch of more gooey cheese on top satisfies my need for delicious protein.
Great excuse as any to make sure cheese lovers get their fill as well ;o)

Make sure the CHEESE compliments and does not over-power the soup's flavour.
Selections that pair well:
Emmental, Comté, mild Gruyère (Swiss), Monterey Jack...etc.



The following onion-based soups are always tastier if prepared a day or two in advance.  
The flavours deeply intensify to produce memorable, comforting warmth.  
However, if this isn't possible, no need to fret...
these onion-based soups will always get great reviews.

Finally, the most important tip of all...
do not rush the onions...it's worth the patience. 


My version of...French style ONION soup gratin
6 servings
Click HERE for PRINTER version
INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
1/4 cup-1/2 stick (60ml) unsalted butter
. 1/4 cup (60ml) grape seed oil
. 8 cups (~2L) 4 very large, sweet onions, thinly sliced
. 1/2 cup (125ml) Port wine
. 1 bottle (340ml) honey-brown Beer 
. 1/4 cup (30ml) Tamari sauce (or Soy sauce)
. 4 cups (~1 Litre) low-sodium Beef stock
. 1 tsp. (5ml) sea salt (optional)
...
. 6 thick slices of crust bread, cubed and lightly toasted for croutons
. 12oz. (350g) from Cheese selections:  Emmental, Comté, Gruyère, Monterey Jack





 

PREPARATION:
1. Refrigerate onions before thinly slicing them.  
2. In a large saucepan, melt together the butter and oil on MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  
3. Add the sliced onions to the pot.  Sauté, while stirring them for no more than 10 minutes.  
4. Lower the heat to MEDIUM and continue stirring the onions once and a while for another 15 minutes.
5. Pour in the Port wine and stir to deglaze the bottom browning bits.  Again, lower the heat to MEDIUM-LOW so that the onions can cook down to a deep caramelized stage.  
6. Place a cover over the saucepan with it slightly ajar to have moisture escape slowly.  This will take another 20 minutes or until the onions have reduced into a deeply rich jam-like consistency.  
7. Towards the end, increase the heat back to MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  Add the beer and stir a few times.  Once, the alcohol has evaporated, add the Tamari sauce and beef stock.    Once it has reached a boiling point, reduce the heat back again to MEDIUM-LOW and simmer for the final cooking of about 20 minutes or so.
. Taste to see if more (optional) salt is needed.
...Assembly:
8. Meanwhile, if the bread croutons were not made ahead of time, the bread can now be cubed and lightly toasted. Set aside.  Same goes for preparing the slices of selected cheese.
9. Prepare a baking sheet to soon place the oven-proof bowls.    Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4 and position oven rack in the center.    Once the onion soup is ready, ladle it into the bowls, 3/4 of the way.  Add a bit of cheese, followed by a few toasted croutons and finally topped with more cheese.
10. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted with its anticipated golden edges.  They are ready to serve. 



Onion Leek Garlic Squash soup gratin
6 servings
Click HERE for PRINTER version
INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1/4 cup-1/2 stick (60ml) unsalted butter
. 1/4 cup (60ml) grape seed oil
. 3 cups (750ml) 2 large, sweet onions, thinly sliced
. 3 cups (750ml) 2 large leeks (white part), thinly sliced
. 1/2 cup (125ml) Brandy
. 2 large garlic cloves, roasted
. 1/2 medium butternut Squash, roasted 
. 1 cup (250ml) water
. 4 cups (~1 Litre) Chicken stock
. 1 tsp. (5ml) sea salt (or more to taste)
... . 6 thick slices of crust bread, cubed and lightly toasted for croutons
. 12oz. (350g) from Cheese selections:  Emmental, Comté, Gruyère, Monterey Jack


PREPARATION:
1. Refrigerate leeks and onions before thinly slicing them.
2. In a large saucepan, melt together the butter and oil on MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  
3. Add the sliced leeks and onions to the pot.  Sauté, while stirring them for no more than 10 minutes.  
4. Lower the heat to MEDIUM and continue stirring them once and a while for another 15 minutes.
5. Pour in the Brandy and stir to deglaze the bottom browning bits.  Again, lower the heat to MEDIUM-LOW so that the onions can cook down to a deep caramelized stage.  
6. Place a cover over the saucepan with it slightly ajar to have moisture escape slowly.  This will take another 20 minutes or until the onions have reduced into a deeply rich jam-like consistency.  
7. Increase the heat back to MEDIUM-HIGH heat and add both the mashed, roasted garlic as well as the roasted squash.  
8. Pour in the water and chicken stock along with the salt.  Once it has reached a boiling point, reduce the heat back again to MEDIUM-LOW and simmer for the final cooking of about 20 minutes or so.
...Assembly:
9. Meanwhile, if the bread croutons were not made ahead of time, the bread can now be cubed and lightly toasted. Set aside.  Same goes for preparing the slices of selected cheese.
10. Prepare a baking sheet to soon place the oven-proof bowls.    Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4 and position oven rack in the center.    Once the onion soup is ready, ladle it into the bowls, 3/4 of the way.  Add a bit of cheese, followed by a few toasted croutons and finally topped with more cheese.
11. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted with its anticipated golden edges.  They are ready to serve. 






Onion Bacon Fennel Mushroom soup gratin
6 servings
Click HERE for PRINTER version
INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1/4 cup -1/2 stick (60ml) unsalted butter
. 1/8 cup (30ml) grape seed oil
. 2 bacon slices, thinly sliced
. 6 cups (1.5L) 4 large, sweet onions, thinly sliced
. 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
. 10 medium crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) Dijon mustard
. 1/4 cup (60ml) dry White wine
. 1/2 cup (125ml) apple juice (non-filtered)
. 1 cup (250ml) water
. 4 cups (~1 Litre) Vegetable stock 
. 1 tsp. (5ml) sea salt (or more to taste)
...
. 6 thick slices of crust bread, cubed and lightly toasted for croutons
. 12oz. (350g) from Cheese selections:  Emmental, Comté, Gruyère, Monterey Jack




PREPARATION:
1. Refrigerate onions before thinly slicing them.  Also thinly slice the fennel, mushrooms and bacon.  
2. In a large saucepan, melt together the butter and oil on MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add the onions and fennel to the pot.  Sauté, while stirring them for no more than 10 minutes.  Now, add and stir in the mushrooms and Dijon mustard.
4. Lower the heat to MEDIUM and continue stirring them once and a while for another 15 minutes.
5. Pour in the White wine and stir to deglaze the bottom browning bits.  Again, lower the heat to MEDIUM-LOW so that the onions can cook down to a deep caramelized stage.  
6. Place a cover over the saucepan with it slightly ajar to have moisture escape slowly.  This will take another 20 minutes or until the onions have reduced into a deeply rich jam-like consistency.  
7. Towards the end, increase the heat back to MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  Add the apple juice, water, vegetable stock and salt.  Once it has reached a boiling point, reduce the heat back again to MEDIUM-LOW and simmer for the final cooking of about 20 minutes or so.
. Taste to see if more (optional) salt is needed.
...Assembly:
8. Meanwhile, if the bread croutons were not made ahead of time, the bread can now be cubed and lightly toasted. Set aside.  Same goes for preparing the slices of selected cheese.
9. Prepare a baking sheet to soon place the oven-proof bowls.    Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4 and position oven rack in the center.    Once the onion soup is ready, ladle it into the bowls, 3/4 of the way.  Add a bit of cheese, followed by a few toasted croutons and finally topped with more cheese.
10. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted with its anticipated golden edges.  They are ready to serve. 



Onion 2 Lentil Tomato soup gratin
6 servings
Click HERE for PRINTER version
INGREDIENTS:
(American / Metric measures)
. 1/4 cup-1/2 stick (60ml) unsalted butter
. 1/4 cup (60ml) grape seed oil
. 6 cups (1.5L) 4 large, sweet onions, thinly sliced
. 1/2 cup (100g) green lentils 
. 1/2 cup (50g) red lentils
. 1/2 cup (125ml) dry Sherry wine
. 1 can [13oz. / (398ml)] San Marzano tomato, diced
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) concentrate tomato paste
. 1 bottle (340ml) Beer, honey-brown 
. 4 cups (~1 Litre) Beef stock 
. 1 tsp. (5ml) sea salt (or more to taste)
...
. 6 thick slices of crust bread, cubed and lightly toasted for croutons
. 12oz. (350g) from Cheese selections:  Emmental, Comté, Gruyère, Monterey Jack


PREPARATION:
1. Refrigerate onions before thinly slicing them.  
2. In a small bowl, soak the lentils ahead of time and rinse.  Set aside until needed.
3. In a large saucepan, melt together the butter and oil on MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  
4. Add the sliced onions to the pot.  Sauté, while stirring them for no more than 10 minutes.  
5. Lower the heat to MEDIUM and continue stirring them once and a while for another 15 minutes.  Add the rinsed and strained lentils.
6. Pour in the Sherry wine and stir to deglaze the bottom browning bits.  Again, lower the heat to MEDIUM-LOW so that the onions can cook down to a deep caramelized stage.  
7. Place a cover over the saucepan with it slightly ajar to have moisture escape slowly.  This will take another 20 minutes or until the onions have reduced into a deeply rich jam-like consistency.  
8. Towards the end, increase the heat back to MEDIUM-HIGH heat.  Add the diced tomato and the tomato paste.  Wait a few minutes and then add and stir in the beer.   Once, the alcohol has evaporated, add the beef stock and salt.    Once it has reached a boiling point, reduce the heat back again to MEDIUM-LOW and simmer for the final cooking of about 20 minutes or so.
. Taste to see if more (optional) salt is needed.
...Assembly:
9. Meanwhile, if the bread croutons were not made ahead of time, the bread can now be cubed and lightly toasted. Set aside.  Same goes for preparing the slices of selected cheese.
10. Prepare a baking sheet to soon place the oven-proof bowls.    Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4 and position oven rack in the center.    Once the onion soup is ready, ladle it into the bowls, 3/4 of the way.  Add a bit of cheese, followed by a few toasted croutons and finally topped with more cheese.
11. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted with its anticipated golden edges.  They are ready to serve. 





The richness of the caramelized onions blended with broth...topped with a slight bread crunch and gooey cheese is just sublime. 

Just as a great Risotto dish rewards...a French-Onion style soup can compete along the same palate any time.

Have a comforting week everyone.

Ciao for now,
Foodessa

Comments... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com


Go HERE for more SAVOURY creations.




Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.