Monday, August 20, 2012

French Onion Soup and Chocolate Banana Bread

Did you enjoy your weekend? Are you rested and ready for a great week? I am well rested and ready for a busy week. 
I spent the weekend exactly as I envisioned, drinking cocoa and tea and reading a pile of magazines and a good book. Do you know the kind of book I am talking about? The book  you cannot put down, not to eat, answer the phone or to go to bed. I finished it Saturday and then spent Sunday cooking and baking. 

I should be honest here, I am an impatient cook and baker. I do not like long and complicated recipes but once and awhile I do make an exception. This French Onion Soup is my exception this week. The recipe is hands down the best onion soup you will ever make. The ingredient list is pretty basic, but the directions look pretty long, so before you decide to write this off please read through the entire thing and you will see it is pretty simple.  

The Best French Onion Soup EVER
adapted from Cooks Illustrated


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 large  onions (3 yellow and 3 red onions) sliced 
1 tsp salt 
2 cups water, plus 3/4 cup for deglazing 
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth 
1 cup beef broth
1 can organic beef consume  
6 sprigs fresh thyme 
1 bay leaf 
ground black pepper 

Cheese Crouton 

1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices 
4 1/2 ounces Swiss cheese, sliced 1/16-inch thick
1 1/2 ounces grated Gruyere cheese (about 3/4 cup) 


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400°. Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. 

2.  Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). 

3. Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour. 

4. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat.

5.Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly.

6.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. 

7. Stir in 1/4 cup water scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. 

8.Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. 

9. Add wine and balsamic vinegar, stirring frequently, until wine evaporates, about 5 minutes. 

10.Stir in chicken and beef broths, 2 cups water, the thyme, and bay leaf  (tied with twine or wrapped in cheese cloth for easy removal from pot) and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. 

11. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper to taste. 

 For the croutons:

Arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside. 

 To serve: Adjust oven rack 4 to 6 inches from broiler and heat broiler. Set heat-safe soup bowls or crocks on rimmed baking sheet and fill each with about 1 1/2 cups soup. Top each bowl with two toasted baguette slices (try not to overlap) and divide Swiss cheese slices, laying them in a single layer, if possible, on bread.  Sprinkle each serving with about 2 tablespoons grated Gruyere cheese and broil until well browned and bubbly, 7 to 10 minutes. 

Notes: The original recipe calls for using just yellow onions. I decided to use half red because in the reviews that I read it mentioned that adding red onions made the soup less sweet. Also, I added beef consume in place of 1 can of beef broth simply because I had it and did not have enough beef broth. 

This soup is fabulous! The soup is creamy, has great depth of onion flavor. Toasting the bread ahead of time allows the crouton to hold up in the soup and not become instantly mushy. And of course the crunchy, yet chewy cheese topping  put it over the top. It is the best French Onion Soup I have ever eaten. 

I also baked, I know that is a surprise! If you have a few bananas laying around than come over to my other blog, Once Upon a Chocolate Life and check out my recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread! It is yummy!

I also wanted to mention two great give aways going on this week! The first is from Dreamy Whites Blog, the give away is for $300.00 to her beautiful shop where you will find all sorts of  antique treasures from France!

The second give away is from the The Magical Christmas Wreath Company and it is for a fabulous set of Fortum & Mason picnic items! 

If you do not know these two blogs go over and check them out! I love them both and think you will too! And if you know a give away do let us know! 


  1. Sounds like a lovely and luxurious weekend, chere amie...
    I will check out these blogs, thank you!
    And I haven't eaten this soup in years, although it is one of my favorites. I have copied the recipe and am excited to give it a try..I'll let you know!
    And I left you a message re: the banana bread on Chocolate Life...
    Our temps here have cooled down finally (hooray)!
    We attended the Japanese Festival at some beautiful gardens...a real treat. I tried authentic strawberry mochi...have you ever had this?
    Have a fabulous Monday, dear Elizabeth!
    - Irina

  2. Hello Elizabeth:
    We should travel the earth for French Onion Soup as good as this looks and sounds to be. We simply love it and to have an exceptional version is a rare treat for, as you obviously know yourself, there are many inferior ones to be had. Alas, though, we are terrible cooks and so would not in a million years attempt anything like this for fear of its totally failing!

    Thank you so much for the comment which you left on our recent post and to which we have replied. Through it we have come here, and have added ourselves as Followers.

  3. Sweet Elizabeth, you always welcome us with the most delicious of recipes, the kindest of greetings, and an enthusiasm that helps me keep going. THANK YOU.

  4. I love french onion soup. I am anxious for cooler weather to start stirring up some yummy soups. The recipe sounds divine. So glad to hear you had a wonder weekend. Enjoy your week. Bonnie

  5. Your soup sounds gorgeous, I love making onion soup with the beautiful rose (pink) onions we get here in Roscoff, we'll be taking some back to England, so I'll make the soup then. And definately the chocolate banana bread, how yummy!
    God luck with the giveaways, I don't know if I mentioned before, but my first job after graduating from university was in the Hamper Department in Fortnum's !
    Thank you for letting me know about the sale, I'm just going to have a look now.
    Have a super week
    Jude x

  6. Love your recipe for French Onion Soup! It looks very delicious, love that you use red wine for this recipe (making it relatively similar to my own)!

    Stopping by your blog from On the Menu Monday (I posted #55 Pizza Sauce).

    Pinned and Tweeted!

    Amber @ The Cook's Sister

  7. OMG i am so hungry now!!!!!!! I am not a big onion soup person but its my husbands fave so I think I am going to have to try this especially with soup season coming up! And the banana that is something I love and anything I have tried of yours I love.
    Hope alls well with you, haven't been in blogland as much as I would have liked, it seems some days 24 hours just isn't enough...really hoping the pace will slow down soon! Enjoy these last few weeks of summer Elizabeth:)

  8. This is the first time I have visited your blog and I just love it. This is my favorite soup in the world and I can't wait to try this recipe. I found you through Common Grounds and I'm so so happy I did.

  9. I love French onion soup and that bread really looks good. Now I just need some groceries.

  10. That is my favorite soup!! YUM! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  11. I just came upon this recipe, it looks delicious I am going to try it next time I have a sick family.

  12. Your recipe for the French Onion Soup comes at the most perfect time. My daughter just gifted me 4 Les Cruiset small bakers with lids and said to me "now you can make me French Onion Soup...perfect timing. Your giveaways are always wonderful...and I keep my fingers crossed every time.


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