For me, this time of year is the most difficult to negotiate. I hang on to summer until the first day of autumn is officially declared, and even then, I extend summer with my annual trip to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in Orlando. Until then, I continue to wear my summer wardrobe and our pool remains open. After all, late September temperatures often reach the 80’s, and even early October can provide warm days. However, unlike the summer, it’s cold in the morning, but warms up by the afternoon, which creates the problem of what to wear. So what does this have to do with food? Nothing really, except that I find the same dilemma this time of year with what to cook. One day I am outside happily grilling on my patio. The sun is shining and although it’s October, I am contemplating eating outside. The next day, it’s cold, almost bone chilling. I tell myself, “You will not make comfort food. It is too soon.” I know once I do this, I will have to pull out the fall clothing, decorate the front of the house with all the harvest paraphernalia, and there will be no turning back. But it’s cold and raining—so I make French onion soup…and a pot of sauce with meatballs and braciole. But then the sun came out on the weekend! And I grilled again! If only the pool company didn’t close the pool.
I hope All of October stays warm, but in case it doesn’t, here is a recipe for French onion soup. I think you will find this one lighter than most you’ve had in many restaurants. I don’t care for very dark broths that are heavy and tend to be too salty. I also don’t like when the soup is like an onion stew. That being said, I’ve created this recipe with the balance of ingredients to my taste. I hope you like it.
French Onion Soup
4 large onions (Vidalia or Spanish) sliced thin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
7 cups beef broth
1 ½ cups white wine
¼ cup cognac or brandy
Swiss, gruyere, jalsberg, or emmentaler cheese (In slices or shredded)
Add vegetable oil and butter to a large pot. On a medium stovetop, add the onions and sugar, stir and cover. Let the onions caramelize on medium/low heat for half hour to forty minutes, stirring occasionally. When caramelized, add flour and stir thoroughly. Add the broth and the wine. Simmer for half hour to forty minutes. While simmering, make baguette toasts. Slice a French baguette ½ inch thick on an angle and toast. You may rub a garlic clove on the toast if you wish, but this is optional. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When the soup is done simmering, remove from the heat and add the cognac or brandy. Ladle the soup into a crock. Add the baguette toasts and lay the cheese over the toasts. Place in oven until cheese bubbles and begins to brown.