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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

February 9, 2009 at 7:27 AM

My favorite French onion soup recipe. Yours?

What’s my favorite do-it-yourself French onion soup recipe? No, it’s not the frozen version I buy at Trader Joe’s, though that’s certainly an easy fix — as I mentioned in Friday’s onion soup blog-post. The recipe I hold dear is Jim Drohman’s.

Jim needs no introduction (though I’ll make one anyway). He’s the chef and co-owner of Cafe Presse and Le Pichet, where he serves onion soup the way he — and I — prefer it: made with chicken stock, in the Lyonnaise style:

If you’ve got the revised edition of Braiden Rex-Johnson’s “Pike Place Market Cookbook” (Sasquatch, 2003), you’ll find his recipe on your shelf. Add to that recipe (below) a little lagniappe from the chef himself, who turned me on to this smart soup-making trick: “When I roast a chicken, I save the bones and freeze them,” he said. “Then, when I’ve got a lot of bones, I make stock. Add to that a couple of onions and a few ounces of cheese and you’ve got a very cost-effective meal that’s easy to make at home.” Now tell me: whose French onion soup recipe do you use?

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

(serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer, 4 to 6 as an entree)

Six 1/2-inch-thick slices of hearty bread

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2-1/2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and cut into thin slices

1/2 head garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices

1-1/2 cups medium-dry sherry

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp. fresh thyme, rinsed, leaves picked from the stems, and minced

1 bay leaf

6 to 8 cups homemade chicken stock

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and bake 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, or until dry and crisp. Remove from oven and reserve.

Melt butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stir well and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until dark brown in color but not burned, stirring occasionally.

Add sherry, increase heat, and cook 10 minutes, or until sherry is almost completely reduced. Add white wine, stir well, and cook 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Add thyme and bay leaf and 6 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes to meld the flavors, stirring occasionally. Add more stock as necessary to give a pleasing ratio of stock to onions.

Skim off any fat that rises to top of pan and discard, then season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, preheat broiler. Spoon the soup into individual oven-proof bowls, then top with the reserved croutons and cheese. Heat under the broiler until cheese turns golden and crusty.

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