Sunday, December 13, 2009

French Onion Soup: The Adventures of Super Chopping Girl

If French Onion soup is on the menu, I will probably order it. The sweet onions and beefy broth are delicious, but we all know it's the melty cheese on top that makes it so irresistible. This baked cheesey delight has been on my list of food to cook for awhile now, and with the cold weather rolling in it got bumped to the top of the list.

Most cooks dread chopping onions, I actually look forward to it. I shared with my Mom that I would be making FOS and she advised me to use the food processor. I ignored this comment because I love to chop. Also, unlike most mere mortals, onions don't make me cry. Seriously, ask anyone who's seen me in the kitchen.

I perused a few recipes, and watched this video of Alton Brown making FOS. I acquired a few onions, 2 vidalias and 2 red onions at the store the day before, so I was shocked when he said to use 8 onions! Wow, no wonder mom wanted me to break out the food processor. Chopping eight onions might even make Super Chopping Girl tear up. I compared AB's recipes to some I found online, and discovered that most averaged about 1 large onion per serving. So I could make enough for everyone in my house with just 3. Here's the recipe I followed.

I cooked the onions for about an hour. The recipe said 45 minutes, but after that amount of time the onions didn't look as brown as AB's onions. After another 15 minutes. I still wasn't satisfied, but I was also sick of babysitting the onions. I moved on to the next step, finished cooking the soup and put it in the fridge so I could construct the bowls of bread and cheesy goodness the next day.

I followed AB's advice for assembling the bowls and they looked awesome if I do say so myself. I grated asiago on top of the croutons, then topped them with 1 slice of provolone and 2 slices swiss each.

Final verdict: I was happy with the way my cheese and croutons turned out, but the soup, not so much. Cooking the onions took forever and they didn't even taste that good. With all the hassle and a mediocre result, I don't think I would make this one again. I'd be better off going to Panera. But if you do feel the need to try FOS on your own, don't forget these important tips:

- Cook the onions to a deep dark brown, at least 1.5 hours!
-You need about 1 large onion per serving.
-Use sweet onions: vidalia, red or a combination of both.
- If onions make you cry, a food processor is probably a good idea.

This picture turned out quite artsy don't you think? There might be hope for my food photography.


  1. Here is some advice. This is a great idea for a post but you need to do a little more. Instead of throwing up your hands and being like oh well go to Panera. Try again and again and again changing little things here and there documenting the process as you go until you have the best french onion soup there is. If you do that you will not only have acquired a skill but also will have the best blog post on the subject. It just takes a little more effort.

  2. Good advice Doug. I guess I was kind of a quitter, will try again soon :)

  3. I call it revisiting a recipe,,, and I have had to revisit dozens. It is very rewarding when a failed or less desireable meal becomes something beautiful... try again... and the sooner the better, like getting back on that horse. But I am anal, and can't get a bad experience out of my karma