Our last night in Maui we ate a nice cafe and I ordered their French onion soup to start. It was served in a crock en croute, which means it was topped with puff pastry – and it had gouda. Why all soup isn’t served this way? I know why I don’t do it – 1) I don’t know how to make puff pastry (yet?) and, 2) it seems like a lot of effort – but I would order soup more often if it were always so fancy and tasty. Anyway, the soup was excellent, but I couldn’t stop myself from wishing it was a rich cream-based soup instead. Also, the onions were simply cooked until they were “done,” and I found myself thinking how much more flavorful the soup would be if they had been caramelized first.
And that’s how this soup was born. It’s both cream-based and caramelized. Caramelizing onions is a very easy process, but it does take a long time – so be prepared, but not scared. (See what I did there?) With very few ingredients and little effort, a surprising depth of flavor develops. The onions become almost creamy as they cook. The long, slow cooking time enhances their natural sweetness while diminishing their bite, and the wine adds a nice tanginess.
I used different types of onions for flavor variation, but if you have a favorite, by all means stick with it.
Also, I’m including a picture of a helpful way to cut an onion. Chop the tip off, but leave the root end in tact. Slice the onion in half, through the root end. I like to cut in lines around the onion, cutting at an angle on the edges. You can make your cuts as close together as you want. Leaving the root end attached until the end will hold your onion together.
3 large onions (I used white, sweet yellow, and red)
olive oil to coat pan
3 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (I use powdered)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cans chicken stock (that’s the flavor I prefer, but veggie or beef would work)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Cut onions into 1-2 inch strips.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until it starts to smoke. Add onions and toss to coat with oil.
Sprinkle with salt, thyme, and rosemary. Turn heat to medium/low and cook until onions become translucent, stirring occasionally. Cover onions and turn heat to low. Cook until liquid has cooked off, and onions begin to brown – about an hour from start to this point. Turn heat back up to medium and stir in 1/4 cup wine. When most of that has evaporated, stir in remaining wine. When wine has cooked down, add butter and stir until it melts. Mix in flour until no lumps are visible. Slowly stir in chicken stock, adding a small amount each time and stirring until it has been fully incorporated. Add cream, and simmer for 15 minutes. Do not allow soup to come to full boil.