vegetarian french onion soup

a bowl of french onion soup 
defined a new food absolute for me.
in possession of my first passport and barely of driving age, i remember not caring that i had just scorched my tongue with a simple, slow brew of onions in butter, broth, and wine. i could taste every ingredient, yet their combination was made congruent through the preparation process, relating to my senses in an altogether notable way. topped with baguette slices and gruyére cheese, after that first taste of french onion soup: food added up to an art form. by the time i uncovered the bottom of the bowl, my interest in cooking had also raised exponentially. this, i had to learn to make.
  every time i eat a facile french onion soup, i am reminded of why i prefer to eat with a spoon.

 in julia child's words, "the french are seldom interested in unusual combinations or surpise presentations . . . the frenchman takes his greatest pleasure from a well-known dish impeccably cooked . . . each of the several steps in the process, though simple to accomplish, plays a critical role."
this recipe is from "mastering the art of french cooking," by julia child 
- adapted for vegetarians

ingredients (serves 6-8)
• 1 and 1/2 lbs. yellow onions, thinly sliced
• 3 tbls. unsalted butter
• 1 tbl. oil (i use high heat safflower oil)
• 1 tsp. sea salt
• 1/4 tsp. sugar
• 2 quarts of boiling veg. stock
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 3 tbls. cognac
• thinly sliced stale baguette, toasted (4-5 spices per bowl)
• 2 cups of grated gryuére cheese
1. melt the butter with the oil in a 4 quart sauce pot on low. add the sliced onions, cover the pot, and cook slowly for 15 min. until the onions turn translucent and soften.
2. uncover the pot, raise the heat to med., and add the salt and sugar. cook for 30-40 min. stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.
3. off the heat, stir in the boiling stock and the white wine. return the pot to the heat, and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 min. more.
4. preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. turn off the soup to stir in the cognac. adjust the seasoning.
6. ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls. stir in a little of the grated gruyére, float the toasted baguette slices on top, and layer on more cheese.
7. set the bowls on a large cookie sheet and put them into the preheated oven for about 20 min. until the soup is bubbling and the top is lightly browned.

No comments: