2012/02/23

I think I've finally got it... (FFwD: Cheese Topped Onion Soup)

Man, oh man. Where do I even start with this one?




It took me a long time to work up the courage to revisit French onion soup after my initial disasters endeavours. Let's just say that my first attempt involves a segment of my brain storage that is probably best kept under lock and key. Keep the hypnotist and his swinging watch far, far away from that memory. Yes, it was that bad.

Yes, I know these aren't Spanish onions...
It had something to do with not having the slightest clue about how to caramelize an onion and not understanding how long it took to do so. And butter. Way, way, way too much butter. It was so bad. I am glad my children were toddlers at the time and were not permanently scarred by such a thing. The young should never be exposed to such inedible atrocities.

I don't know how something so simple went so horribly wrong. But it did. Horribly, horribly wrong (whimpers). All I can say is that I was just a young 'un and didn't know any better.


Flash forward a decade and a few years. I'm a lot older and a wee bit wiser. I think I picked up a few skills along the way. This time I knew how to caramelize an onion. And I had picked up another invaluable kitchen skill - patience.

Yes, I gave it another shot.

Things were a lot less scarier. And it worked.  It's amazing what a few skills and a little bit of confidence can accomplish.


Anyhoo.... When I read the title for this week's recipe "cheese-topped onion soup", the little light bulb clicked on in my brain: "isn't this French onion soup?" I had a very brief flashback; but before I dropped to the ground and curled up under the kitchen table, I remembered  that I had already overcame this issue. There was nothing to stress about.


And for the most part, this was true. Except for one major brain cramp. I don't know why this happens, but whenever I need to pick up Spanish onions for anything, I end up bringing home red onions. I KNOW what Spanish onions are. I stand in front of them at the store and stare at them. But somehow, just somehow, the red ones always seem to come home in their place. Gaaaa.

I could pretend that it was an intentional substitution and that I was expressing myself. But I would be lying. It was my bad... That being said, I am pleased to announce that using different onions didn't really have any impact on the end result.  The sky did not fall. The earth did not open up. The great state of NY did not slide into the sea.

The only chasm was the empty bowl.

The End.

P.S. The bread lurking in the back ground is this pull apart bread from Smitten Kitchen. Since I used Sam Adams in the soup - I felt like carrying it through to the bread.


This post participate in French Fridays with Dorie. Check out what the rest of the FFwD crew is up to this week.

43 comments:

  1. Well, Cher, it looks like you can bury that French Onion Soup phobia for good! This looks delicious & like someone cleaned their bowl. We really liked this, too!

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  2. Congrats on mastering French Onion soup. That's one dish I'd like to try out, but the thought of slicing all those onions and then eventually caramelizing them scares me away. Not because I'm afraid I'd mess up, but because I hate slicing onions and caramelizing takes sooooo long! Major props to you for doing it.

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  3. Way to overcome your fear and so happy to hear that your soup was a success. I actually used a mix of onions in my soup and it came out great. I was wondering how big of a difference using only Spanish onions would have made.

    PS - Now you have me craving a Sam Adams! Not to be found here, so sad.

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  4. The empty bowl speaks for itself!
    I've made french onion soup once before - few simple ingredients yet such a delicious outcome.

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  5. This was a fun post with a delicious ending. I love this recipe a lot. Though I substituted beef and mushroom stock for the chicken to get a richer flavour...

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  6. OMG! I used red onions too! Except I thought they were Spanish onions until I looked at others from FFwD using WHITE onions! I googled it and found that in Aust we call red onions spanish onions... incorrectly! And they took ages to caramelise! But I agree, I don't think it took away from the taste at all! Your soup looks great!

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  7. I'm glad your second time around turned out more successful! I think a lot of people made their own bread, and yours looks delicious.

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  8. lol your bread sounds delish! :) Too bad about your first experience with onion soup. I used to add a bunch of soy sauce to onions that I had to caramelize for my mothers curry when I was young, thinking I could fool her and I never did but I kept doing it for years! LOL!

    Alice @ http://acookingmizer.wordpress.com

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  9. Good for you making a second attempt at this delicious cheesy topped onion soup, I'm hoping to make mine over the weekend;-)

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  10. Maybe the onions were my problem. I have always called the red onions Spanish onions, and so that's what I used. It took forever and they never got to the right color. Maybe I'll have to revisit how I feel about this recipe!

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  11. I've been wanting to try that pull-apart bread. Did you like it? I'm glad to hear this worked with red onions. I couldn't find Spanish onions and just used plain ones but, to be honest, I don't think I'm quite sure what Spanish onions are.

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    1. Jora - Hi. I used a French baguette in the soup & served the pull apart bread as a side (because carb overload seemed to be the theme of the evening...). I really liked the savory pull apart bread - it seemed like it would take well to variation.
      Spanish onions are a yellowish onion. I haven't worked with them a lot because I always seem to screw up the acquisition part!

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  12. Glad you tried the soup again it turned out beautiful. That melting cheese looks
    so delicious. Hubby was in his glory with this meal, I went with Campbell's Chicken
    rice. I can cook it, but I don't have to eat it. Great photos.

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  13. Red onions are a great idea...they have a little color even before you start that LONG caramelizing process...I would have loved a hint of color at 3 or 4 hours into that process!!! But, next time...I will not cook on low...medium will work, and I would love to use red onions. Glad to know they went well in this recipe.

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  14. You've overcome your fear but I've been smacked in the head with it! This did NOT work for me. I'll try again this weekend and see what I get. Yours looks very good. Sadly mine looked good it just didn't have enough flavor!

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  15. First time visiting your blog. Love your writing style and your sense of humor, glad you got over your fears. Your onion soup looks delicious.

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  16. Your soup looks great! I am scared of Oeufs en Cocotte or however you spell it in French from Mastering the Art of French Cooking like you were scared of French Onion Soup. I got a really bad burn last time I tried them, but I am inspired by your fortitude so I might try them again soon. Maybe...

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  17. You don't even want to know my first FOS experience. Well, maybe you do. I placed the toasted baguette slice at the bottom of the soup bowl, poured in the soup, and, then, threw the grated (Velveeta - it was long ago) on the top. By the time the bowls got to the table, all the broth had been sopped up by the bread. That evening will live with me forever.

    Good for both of us. We got back up and lived to cook another day

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  18. See how far you've come!!! And I think red onions are just fine...they're sweet, too :) Beautiful soup~

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  19. Hey, Cher,

    So how did you overcome the onion soup failures before your success? I consider my foray as somewhat of a failure, ok maybe, two thirds failure and envy carmelized onion pics at this point, lol. I used Vidalia onions which is my onion preference for everything calling for onions! Snowy NY, huh? Well we have had early spring like weather all winter. Stay cozy and cook some more!
    Kathleen

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  20. Nice work Cher! I was wondering why the red onions when I saw the photo before reading further down. Glad it worked out and soup did not turn blue. :D Because if that happens, I don't know what you would do between blue soup and the horrible past experience, heh! Seriously, the both the soup and the bread look great. Wish I can have a taste!

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  21. Your soup looks gorgeous. Good for you for trying again. The bread lurking in the background also looks great.

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  22. Looks great! I've been meaning to try the pull-apart bread also:)

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  23. Hah, I have been wanting to try that pull apart bread -- it looks amazing. What with my low carb dieting husband, though, I need dinner guests to make bread.

    I was tempted to use red onions, so glad that you went for it and that it all worked. Next time I'll go for red.
    Peggy at Necessity is the Mother of Invention.

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  24. To add a badge to your post, right click on the FFwD badge (on the FFwD site or another blog) and "save image as" FFwD badge (or whatever) and make sure you save it to your photos. Then you can add it just like adding a photo to your post (this is for a PC...not sure how to do it on a Mac).

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  25. I have to admit, I don't know what a Spanish onion is. My choices were: red onion, yellow onion, sweet onion. I picked the sweet onion, because they're huge, and for some reason, that seemed better. I figured I knew the other two were wrong, so I'd give it a shot. I'm fascinated by this wretched suppressed food memory. I'm trying to think if I have anything like that. Nothing comes to mind. I'll keep delving...

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  26. Your soup looks fab Cher - definitely an A plus on this assignment. Yum!

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  27. I love that you faced your demons and conquered the caramelized onions! Honestly someone once told me Spanish onions were the purple ones. I keep it straight, but just barely. I love your posts. You rock sister.

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  28. It's good to know that any kind of onion would work--and apparently any broth, or any kind of wine or beer, and most kinds of cheese. Yours looks perfect, and you can bury the memory of the bad soup forever.

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  29. Looks good and glad that you succeded in making your French Onion soup :) and you can now bury the memory of the bad soup :)))

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  30. Your onions caramelized really nicely! That soup looks wonderful in those bowls. I want to hear more about your prior disaste. ;)

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  31. Great looking meal! Fantastic idea to pull the Sam Adams through to the bread. Wish our weather was cooler and wintery. We are in the midst of a heat wave and I'm craving summer foods like gazpacho. Guess I could turn the air on and down to the 60's in the house and pretend it is cold out.

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  32. The soup looks beautiful! It's entertaining to compare my novice cook experiences with what I'm able to do now. It's not just a matter of more experience, I think, but also more equilibrium. I like the idea of using beer in place of wine for this dish, too - especially with that lovely pull apart bread!

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  33. Your soup sounds yummy! I'm glad you figured it out. :)

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  34. OK Cher, I'm where you were 10 years ago. So, what is the secret to getting the onions to brown??? I don't know how I can make bread one week and screw up a pot of soup the next. Any tips would be great ;o)

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  35. Cher, You make me feel so sorry that I missed this one! What a great job...looks like you came, you saw and you conquered! Yay for you!!

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  36. Hi Cher - great story and such bravery to try it again! Looks outstanding and reading all these great posts this week makes me want to find the time to make this today! I've actually somehow never made french onion soup but know this would be loved in my house.

    Fun post! So glad it worked out, red onions and all.

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  37. Congrats on getting past your phobia. Now you can make this all the time, I know I plan to. Sam Adams sounds like a great choice for the alcohol.
    Fun fact: I used to live in an apartment where the founder of Sam Adams was the previous occupant. We had a mealy moth infestation that, I'm sure, was a remnant of beer experiments in the kitchen.

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  38. This looks AMAZING. My husband loves French Onion Soup...too bad I'm a terrible wife and never make it for him. Maybe I should send him to your house?

    Also, I learned the handiest thing recently: if you add a pinch (but just a pinch!) of baking soda to the onions as they cook, they caramelize much faster and have a sweeter flavor. I don't remember the chemistry behind it but it's seriously magic.

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  39. LOL on your onion substitution! I have the same problem with soda/diet soda. I don't drink diet (and barely drink regular) but I always, always, always come home with diet. I'll stand there, stare at the bottles, looking for the word "diet" and still manage to grab the wrong one. Your soup turned out great!

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  40. I'm so sorry I missed doing this one, but feel the need to revisit. Yours looks great, red onions and all. That's really funny though about patience. I hope people realize how important a skill that is. I think I'm slowly learning that one myself.

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  41. Well, I learned that you definitely need patience when cooking french onion soup, but I am glad I did and it was so worth it. Those red onions are such a draw, aren't they? Love all the cheese on yours!

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