I made a big pot of French Onion Soup, today.  I actually made it for Victor’s mom, who really really likes it – but we did get a couple of large bowls of it, ourselves, before bringing her over a big container.  I am in such a soup mood, lately.  From now until April 1st, I could eat nothing but soups.

I make a nice, beefy soup – chunks of beef swimming in a beefy onion broth.  Maybe not the most traditional recipe out there, but I do like it – and so does Nonna.

Beefy Onion Soup

  • 8 pounds onions, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 pounds cubed beef
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 2 qts beef broth
  • 1 tsp herbs d’Provence
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place onion and garlic in a large soup pot with the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are deep amber in color.  This can definitely take a while.

When onions start getting close, brown beef in another pan.  Add wine and reduce by half.  Add bransy, reduce a bit more, then add to onions.

Add broth, herbs d’Provence, bay leaves, honey, and S&P, to taste.

Bring to a boil and then simmer at least an hour.

French Onion Soup is traditionally served with a crouton and a huge mass of gooey, melted Gruyere cheese.  We usually eschew the crouton and cheese, and go for some crusty bread.  Tonight we had a bit more of last nights beer bread.

Again, not exactly traditional, but… who cares?!?  We liked it, and that’s really what counts!

And speaking of…

We heard today that Gourmet Magazine was closing down after 60+ years.  I had subscribed on and off for years, and then, finally, just let the subscription lapse about 8 years ago.  I had really liked it once upon a time, but it really had changed over the years.  It seemed a lot less about food and a lot more about, I dunno… attitude, or something.  Recipes were dictatorial in their instructions and the pictures all started looking the same.  Everything was perched upon rusty shovels or pealing-paint boards.

Last year, I got a free subscription for buying something at Amazon.  It diodn’t take long for me to realize that Gourmet wasn’t the magazine it once was.  The paper felt cheap and the magazine looked almost dingy.

The photographs didn’t help the overall look or feel, either.  Too many pictures where the predominate color was the wrong color blue.  I’ve dealt with food photographers in the past and know that I may want a picture of the food while they’re creating a photographic composition, but a food magazine should still be focusing on the food.  There were times when the food was actually lost on the page.

I didn’t renew my subscription.

It’s still too bad that they’re going away, though.  They really were the go-to magazine for slightly over-the-top entertaining.

Here’s a salute to them in a 2006 version of French Onion Soup:


French Onion Soup

Serves6 (light main course)

Active Time:45 min
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr

This version of the classic is gorgeously cheesy, not gunky. Slow cooking gives the broth depth of flavor and a silky texture. For more recipes inspired by the City of Light, visit our Paris City Guide.
December 2006

  • 2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette
  • 1 (1/2 lb) piece of Gruyère, Comte, or Emmental
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Special equipment:

  • 6 (8- to 10-oz) flameproof soup crocks or ramekins; a cheese plane

Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.

Remove croûtes from oven and preheat broiler. Put crocks in a shallow baking pan.

Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a croûte in each. Slice enough Gruyère (about 6 ounces total) with cheese plane to cover tops of crocks, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Cooks’ Note: Soups and croûtes can be made 3 days ahead (but do not add croûtes and cheese to soup); cool completely, uncovered, then chill soup, covered, and keep croûtes in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat soup before proceeding with recipe.

Mine was better – and I didn’t have to scrub the bowls.