My first memory of french onion soup (FOS) was at a restaurant called Hess’s Patio in Center City Allentown, PA.
Now this was in the mid-80’s, but I recall my mom (who LOVES french onion soup) encouraged me to order some soup. She said it was the best she’d ever tasted. Boy was she right! Hess’s Patio served ridiculous sized portions and the bubbly brown cheese served in a ramekin was to DIE for! Unfortunately, Hess’s has long since closed, but I will never forget my first introduction to FOS.
Now fast forward 10-15 years, I recall my grad school days in Madison, WI where I became reacquainted with FOS, it was at a little known place called Panera Bread. I would order the you pick 2 and FOS was always one of my picks. It wasn’t Hess’s Patio quality, but it made me miss home less and kept me warm during those cold Madison winters.
For some reason, until recently, I never attempted to make FOS at home. Although it’s summer, I am a soup junkie, and I can eat it all year—even if it’s 100+ degrees outside.
I had a great time making the soup and eating it was even better! It’s not nearly as hard as I thought.
Ingredients: individual size crock pot, vegetable stock, balsamic vinegar, beef broth, red wine (around $9), Worcestershire sauce, onions, thyme, bay leaf, unsalted butter and Gruyere cheese. [Note: You don’t see a baguette, but see my later comment on why the baguette is needed]
After all the broth and seasonings were added and simmering, the soup was for the cheese and the oven.
What the pictures don’t tell:
So I skipped the toasted baguette because I rush in a rush to leave the grocery store (let’s blame the kid for story sake…) — for some reason thought I could just add the cheese to the top of the broth. Well the cheese kept falling to the bottom of the mini crock pot while melting. I panicked, and then I realized the purpose of the toasted bread! It’s to keep the cheese afloat allowing it to brown in the broiler (duh!). So…the dish I photographed has very light colored cheese in the middle because I added toasted bread after I tried to brown the cheese without it. Thought I’d share so others don’t do the same thing…
stay inspired and enjoy cooking!