I had some French onion soup left over from the other night. It had turned into an onion jam and—although the flavor was not bad—was a bit too “oniony” for most of Eilene’s friends. I was getting few takers for the leftovers. I decided that one way to buffer the flavors—and use up the leftovers— was to turn some of it into savory crackers. I will freeze the rest, in portions, to use as “soup starters.”
Note: I recognize that most people will not have a pot of leftover French onion soup laying around their kitchens. Making real French onion soup takes a fair amount of time and effort. I have included instructions for making two “quickie” substitutes at the end of the cracker directions.
Karl’s French Onion Soup Crackers
2 cups flour, AP
½ Tbs. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup Karl’s French Onion Soup, cold
¾± cup ice water
2 tsp. white vinegar
1 Tbs. Fleur de sel
1. Put the flour, baking powder, and a half teaspoon of salt in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed.
Tip: I sift the flour 5-6 times to bet a good blending of the dry ingredients.
Note: Most flour sold in the U.S. is not “self-raising,” like in many British commonwealth countries. Self-raising flour is just thoroughly mixed regular flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. Add vinegar and ice to the water and give it a few minutes to chill.
3. Make a “well” in the flour and add the soup to the hollow.
4. Pour most of the water in with the soup and mix them together.
Note: How much water you will need to add depends on the amount of moisture in your onion soup. You want a soft, but not a wet dough. If the dough is too soft, it will stick to the rolling pin and be difficult to roll out.
5. Use a spatula to mix the soup mixture into the flour, until the dough forms a ball.
Tip: The dough should be fairly soft. add more water if necessary. Mix until almost all of the flour has just been absorbed.
6. Form the dough into a ball and dust the outside with flour.
Tip: The dry flour keeps the dough from sticking to the plastic wrap.
7. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for ten minutes.
Tip: This rest gives the flour time to completely hydrate.
8. Knead the dough just 5 times.
Tip: You are trying to completely mix the dough, but not form too much gluten which would make your crackers tough.
9. Move the oven rack to the top position and preheat the oven to 425° F.
Tip: If you have a pizza stone this would be a good time to use it. If not, a cookie sheet will do.
Note: The stone retains heat and cooks the cracker more evenly, quickly, and more crisply.
10. On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough as thinly as you can.
Tip: You will need at least 2 tablespoons of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the paper and the rolling pin. Be generous with the flour.
Note: You want the crackers out to an eighth of an inch thick, but the thickness of the onions will control how thinly you can roll out the dough. It’s all good, but if you dough is a quarter of an inch thick it would then be “hardtack.”
11. Cut the crackers to any size that pleases you.
12. Brush the tops of the crackers lightly with olive oil and sprinkle some coarse salt on each cracker.
Tip: This is where the parchment paper really comes in handy, even though the crackers are separated, they can be transferred all together by sliding the paper onto a cookie sheet. If you are using a pizza stone a quick “shove and jerk” will slide the paper onto the stone.
13. Bake crackers until they are starting to have some golden brown spots, about 15 minutes.
Tip: Rotate the tray/parchment paper about half way through the baking time.
Note: Do not over bake. If the edges start to get dark brown they will taste burnt.
14. When done, remove the crackers to a wire rack and let the crackers and the oven cool down.
15. Turn the oven down to 300º F.
16. Break the crackers apart and scatter them onto a lipped baking tray.
17. Toast the crackers a second time for about 10 minutes.
Tip: Baked only once the crackers will be tough and chewy. Baking them a second time makes them crisp.
18. Let them cool a second time and try not to eat them all immediately.
Tip: You may store any left in an air tight plastic bag.
Karl’s Quickie Onion Soup Substitutes
Note: If you do not have any French onion soup on hand:
1. Substitute 1 (ten minutes)
a. Mix a package of instant onion soup mix with one half cup of sherry in a small pot.
b. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
c. Chill in the refrigerator for five minutes
2. Substitute 2 (30 minutes)
½ medium onion
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tsp. beef bullion
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch black pepper
½ cup dry sherry
a. Slice the onion thinly pole to pole.
b. Sauté the onions with the salt in the olive oil over a medium heat.
c. Cook the onions until well caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.
Tip: Stir frequently, so that the onions do not burn.
d. Stir in the bullion, thyme, garlic, pepper and sherry.
e. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
f. Chill in the refrigerator for five minutes.