it’s november, so of course we need soup…french onion mushroom soup….

I have a slight obsession with French Onion Soup. I’ve written about it before and my quest to find and develop a recipe I really liked and I think that was in 2015. I have been fiddling and fiddling with the way I make it, and I think this is the best batch so far.

My friend Karen‘s mother made the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever had anywhere. It was even better than the H.A. Winston soup that we all loved growing up. But I’ve kind of developed my own now which isn’t bad if I do say so myself. But I definitely have a memory of being in Karen‘s mother’s kitchen when she had that soup cooking. The aroma and the fragrance of it just filled the room.

I start my soup the day before with roasting my beef bones in the oven for beef stock. Then I throw everything into a stockpot with wine, water, and a 32 oz. container of low salt beef broth. To that I had a couple of carrots, celery or Celeriac (celery root), onion, fresh herbs, and that’s how I make my beef broth. This time I made my beef bone broth with Celeriac, because that is what I had. I cook this for a few hours. I let it simmer and cook down and condense. If I do it in the instant pot it takes a lot less time for the broth component.

I prepare the beef bone broth the day before because I like to fish the bones out of the broth and dispose of them, and then put the broth in the refrigerator overnight because then as you can see from the photo I shared above, I can skim the fat off the top very easily. This bone broth I made this time was truly gorgeous. This morning it was totally gelatinous like a consommé. That’s what you want.

Also, people always ask me how many beef bones I use. Honestly? It varies and this time I had 10 beef bones.

I line a big sheet pan with aluminum foil. Then I sprinkle them with just a smidge of olive oil and add salt pepper, Herbes de Provence, and garlic. When I roast them I do it at a 375° oven. I just keep an eye on the oven I think they were roasted through in about 35 to 40 minutes. Then I just turned the oven off and let everything cool down a bit before I bring them out of the oven and throw them into the stockpot as indicated above.

These bones were actually a surprise I did not know I still had in the bottom of our chest freezer they had come with a meat order from our local butcher, Worrell’s. Truthfully, you really do have to go to a local farmers market meat purveyor, or a local butcher shop to get good bones. And ask before you want to make the soup, because it’s not like the good old days and they don’t always have the bones.

The next day I start with caramelizing my onions, and today’s onions are the last I will ever get at Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown which makes me sad. I use a combination of red and white onions. I add a little salt, a couple of tablespoons of butter, and a couple of dashes of balsamic vinegar to the bottom of the pot. You do want to caramelize your onions, but pay attention or they will burn. I almost killed them today because I was on the phone when I was doing this.

I also add mushrooms now to my recipe and that is pretty much because my husband loves mushrooms. The mushrooms, Cremini, came from Pete’s as well. I am so going to miss the produce and that store because these mushrooms were the prettiest I’ve had all year to cook with. But I have to admit that adding mushrooms especially this kind to soup add another layer of flavor that is just wonderful.

When I’m putting it all together after the onions have cooked down and caramelized, if I feel there is not enough liquid, then I will use a little additional bone broth or Better Than Bouillon to help it along. And you also cannot forget your healthy dash of Flavor Master’s Gravy Master. Why? Because that is something they put in the H.A. Winston soup when they were making it.

Today I did add an 8 ounce container additionally of bone broth. I also added a good half a bottle of wine

I wish I had a more exact and proportionate recipe written down, but I don’t a lot of times I cook things by the way I think they feel.

I will serve my French onion soup in a few minutes with a little shredded Gruyère on top but I don’t do the whole thing with the big hunk of bread and put it in the broiler. That’s too much work for me. The soup is work enough on its own. Besides it’s something I always eat around French onion soup when I get it at a restaurant, anyway.

We are also having an arugula and spinach salad with elite seasoning tomato and a honey mustard vinaigrette.

Bon appétit 👩‍🍳

the french onion soup project

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The French Onion Soup Project is now in day 2.

Roasting the bones made a huge difference before starting broth. So did adding fresh rosemary, chives, chervil, Herbes de Provence and 3 kinds of onions (Vidalia, red, plain old cooking onions.)

The recipe just popped out of my head as I tried to pay homage to the soup my childhood friend Karen’s mom used to make. And oh, my her soup was so amazing that none of us ever forgot it ….only none of us got the recipe either!

This started a day ago when I roasted eight big marrow bones at 425° for like 20 minutes. Then I reduced the heat to 375° and roasted approximately another 15 minutes.

Then I turned the oven off and ignored them for a little while well I got the big stockpot ready – handful of bay leaves, salt, a bunch of carrots cut into chunks a few ribs of celery, the juice I had taken out of the pan and frozen from the Christmas roast, two large yellow cooking onions chunked. Then I added my roasted bones and filled the pot to within an inch and a half from the top.

After bringing everything to a boil, I reduced to a low simmer and let the soup cook away for about two and a half hours.

I let the stock cool to room temperature and put the lid back on and put into the fridge overnight.

This morning I got the stockpot out of the refrigerator, pulled the fat off the top and discarded and then
cooked the bones in the now broth for another three hours on low.

I let that all cool so I could remove the bones, broth making veggies, and any other fat that I could get out from the pot and then added all the onions (I think ten or eleven onions total all sliced as uniformly as I could manage), and added the herbs and amended the other seasonings, added fresh ground pepper, added a couple dashes of Worchestershire sauce , a cup and a half of wine, an 10 ounce pack of fresh mushrooms sliced very thin (don’t use presliced mushrooms they don’t taste as fresh), and a little balsamic vinegar. And one small dash of soy sauce.

The soup will sit one more overnight in the fridge after cooling and will be served with either Swiss or Gruyere cheese tomorrow.

I have been doing this two to three day cooking the soup thing and it has led to much tastier soups. Also when you’re working with meat and poultry it means you have more than one opportunity to get as much fat as possible off the soup as there is nothing worse than greasy soup.

So while some like doing soups in crockpots including French Onion, I still think nothing beats making soup old school.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bon appetit!