The kids are still on their keto/Atkins low-carb diet. These diets are vegetable/protein forward. I am making brisket and a cucumber salad. I had also decided on making a French onion soup, but the question was how could I make it low car. My solution was to give my diners the option of whether their soups would be topped with bread and/or cheese.
I set this dish up as a buffet in the kitchen. I asked my diners beforehand about who would want bread. I then let my diners served their own soup, put on the bread or not, and then grate as much of the cheese on top as they liked. While my diners returned to the tables, I popped the individual bowls into the broiler to melt the cheese.
Note: Be sure to note who gets which bowl.
This soup has a history in our family. As the fourth of five girls, my mother Claudia did not learn to cook while she was growing up. When she met my father, the only recipes she knew were how to make French onion soup and how to burn water—put a pot of water on the stove and then focus on something else as it boils away. My father did not so much teach my mother how to cook, but he taught her to learn to how cook. She was freed to explore world cuisines, long before it became popular.
If you have never made this soup before, Serious Eats has a good article on the onions and pots to use based on experimentation. The secret to a good onion soup starts with well caramelized onions. This is not a process on which you can take a short cut—expect to spend two hours just on this one step.
Karl’s French Onion Soup
4 Tbs. unsalted butter (vegetable oil for Vegan)
2 white onions, sliced thinly pole to pole
2 yellow onions, sliced thinly pole to pole
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup. dry sherry
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. French thyme, dried
½ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
28 oz. beef broth (2 cans) (Vegetable broth for Vegan/vegetarian)
14.5 oz. chicken broth (1 cans) (Vegetable broth for Vegan/vegetarian)
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
2 thick slices of French bread or baguette per serving
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 Tbs. melted butter
½ cup Swiss Gruyere, shredded (for Vegan use vegan cheese)
1-2 green onions, sliced finely
1. Put the butter in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.
Tip: Serious Eats recommends a cast iron or black steel pot for this dish. They also strongly suggest that enameled pot work very poorly for getting the best caramelized onions.
Note: Serious East also suggest that using whole butter helps the onions to brown more quickly.
2. Sauté the onions with the salt, stirring often, until well caramelized.
Tip: Using more than one type of onion will give you a deeper and more complex flavor.
Note: This process takes a long time—to caramelize without burning the onions takes a good two hours. Stirring the onions and scrapping the fond off of the bottom of the pot, so that it does not scorch. Use water or sherry to deglaze the pot frequently. I also adjusted the heat as the onions cooked down.
3. Pull the onions to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center.
4. Sauté the garlic for one minute and mix it into the onions.
5. Add the sherry and make sure that the bottom of the pot is completely deglazed.
Tip: Any bits of onion that are stuck to the bottom of the pot might burn, giving your soup a charred taste.
Note: Cook until the pot is almost completely dry to cook off most of the alcohol.
6. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, black pepper, beef broth, and chicken broth.
7. Bring the pot to a boil, cover and reduce the heat.
8. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
9. While the soup is simmering, slice the baguette into thick slices and rub them with the slice of garlic.
Tip: Unless you have a very large loaf of bread, you probably will need two slices for each bowl.
10. Brush the bread lightly with the butter and toast them until they are lightly browned
11. Remove the bay leaves and stir the sherry vinegar into the soup.
12. Serve the soup into individual bowls and lay the bread on top of the soup.
Tip: As I said, I let my diners set up their own bowls to their liking.
Note: There are special bowls made just for French onion soup, but any heavy, oven-proof bowl that will stand up to a few minutes of broiling will do.
13. Scatter a bit of the cheese on top of the bread and put the bowl in the broiler four inches from the heating element.
14. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Tip: Remember to use oven mitts to remove the bowls from the oven, as they will be very hot.
15. Garnish the bowls with green onion and transfer to plates/individual trivets, while they are still piping hot.