With the chill still in the air at the top of Mount Tamalpais yesterday morning and the wild snow storms that are still holding the East Coast captive, I thought it was time to transfer over this recipe for French Onion Soup, Maui style, from my Food Journey blog. The Maui part factors in the fact that I used Maui onions, as I was still living in Honolulu when I photographed this soup.
A little confession: up until I was about eighteen or thereabouts, I used to hate onions. Then I started using them more and more in my cooking, so I began appreciating their versatility. That said, it still took me years before I got around to eating something onion-focuses like this soup, or even onion rings. Raw onion, however, is still not my favorite and can only show up in my salad in small quantities and sliced really thin.
This is a really, really easy soup to make, but incredibly flavorful and satisfying. You will be slurping up every last drop.
MAUI ONION SOUP
yields 6-7 portions
– 1 kg & 400 gr. (3lbs. & 9oz) Maui onions (or other sweet onions of choice), cut in half and then sliced (see image below)
– 3 Tablespoons butter
– 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1.3 liters (ca. 5 cups) vegetable stock, hot – if you are buying one, my favorite is the 365 brand from Whole Foods
– 2 teaspoons sugar
– 3/4 cup dry sherry
– 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves + extra for garnish
– sea salt
– freshly ground black pepper
– good quality crusty bread of choice, sliced and lightly toasted
– ca. 3 cups grated gruyere or emmenthaler, or edam cheese or a mix of the three
1. Heat the butter and oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and stir. Allow to cook for a few minutes on high heat, then sprinkle with the sugar to help the caramelization process. Add the thyme leaves and stir. Keep cooking on medium/high heat, stirring regularly, until cooked through, flavorful and as caramelized as possible without burning, ca 40 minutes.
2. Add the sherry, the hot broth and the demi-glace and let simmer, covered with the lid left slightly open, for another 15-20 minutes, until flavors are well combined.
Scoop out the soup into oven-proof bowls, cover with the toasted bread slices (you can break them a little to make them fit as needed) and sprinkle generously with the grated cheese. Place them under the broiler in the oven, or toaster oven, to gratin. In my toaster oven it takes about 10′ on high. In an oven it might take just 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Garnish with a few thyme leaves and serve on a plate covered with a napkin to buffer the intense heat. The soup will be extremely hot, so be careful.
Does not get easier than that, does it?
French Onion Soup is originally made with beef stock. You are very welcome to use that if you have a good quality beef stock available. I prefer to use vegetable stock and add some demi-glace. It’s a little bit of a cheat on my part, but… that’s the way it is.
For a vegetarian version of this soup, stick to the vegetable stock and omit the demi-glace.
I saw another version of French Onion Soup that used Riesling instead of Sherry. Sounds good to me, and I will try that another time. Riesling (not a sparkling one, please) is a very fruity, flavorful and gently sweet white wine, and it could be an interesting variation in this soup.
If you prefer a slightly thicker soup, you can sprinkle the onions with a Tablespoon of flour and then stir before adding the broth. I prefer it without the flour, but it is a matter of taste.
A little tidbit: The Pineapple Room restaurant in Honolulu makes yet another version of this soup by adding some Kalua Pig on the bottom. It is divine! Too bad they do not have it all the time, but it shows up regularly on their dinner menu, especially in winter.
Other delicious soup recipes you will enjoy: