Sunday, October 2, 2011

This French Onion Soup Goes Against Everything In Which I Believe

As you may or may not know, French Onion Soup is one of my specialties. I make it several times a month during the year. I love the process of caramelizing onions and simmering the broth for as long as is feasible. I love the complex flavors of white and red wine, which I sample amply as I'm caramelizing.

I recently came across a recipe for so called Crock Pot French Onion Soup on a blog I enjoy. How are onions expected to caramelize in a dignified manner in a crock pot? To make matters worse, there was no wine listed in the ingredients. Anywhere. I was horrified. But I was also open minded and it was the first cool day of autumn and I was seriously craving soup. So I calmed down and gave it a shot.

I sliced the onions and put them in the damn crock pot. I added all the other ingredients and waited an hour for them to caramelize. By themselves. Without any stirring or wine sipping. It was depressing, being so un-needed, so sober. So I chugged a cup of cafĂ© au lait and I went to the grocery store.

Don't they look sad?

I got back an hour later to check on my babies. They weren't caramelized, just a touch darker. I knew it. What a crock! I gave them another half hour to redeem themselves. Finally, there they were, perfectly caramelized. Not one of them burned. Just. Freakin'. Perfect.
I added the other ingredients. This recipe called for beer. Beer, instead of the traditional wine. I silently apologized to my father (who is the person who has taught me most of what I know about cooking) and poured in the brew. I used a Canadian beer because 1. I love Canadians. 2. Canadians are almost French. 3. It's what I had in the fridge.
And then I walked away. For seven hours. Letting it do its thing. By itself. And I was lonely.

Thankfully, this recipe acquiesced to some traditional French Onion Soup requirements: French bread and gruyere. I have to say, if this had called for provolone or anything other than swiss or gruyere, I would have scoffed and moved on with my life.

Within a few hours, the house smelled all onion soupy and it was time to broil. Finished product:

Verdict? Fantastic. Beer and all.
Lesson? I need to stop being such a French Onion Soup snob.

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