Tuesday, March 4, 2014

French Style Miso Onion Soup


THERE ARE FEW THINGS about French Onion Soup.

One of the things is the cheese. How many times have I seen French Onion Soup filled to the brim with oozing and melting cheese stuck all over the outside of the bowl? While it makes a gorgeous and appetizing presentation, it is not an easy thing to eat.



I attempt piercing the barricade of cheese, only to hit a blockade of toast. Once the spoon enters the soup, it has splashed onto the tablecloth and is there a polite way to eat cheese off the outside of a bowl?

I used expensive cheese--Emmental and Parmigiano-Reggiano for my soup and I wanted it on my spoon not wasted on my bowl. While I am ordinarily all for more cheese is better in almost any recipe, I think that restraint is best with this soup. Julia Child, herself, felt that 1/2 cup of cheese was the correct amount for 6 servings. (I do like more than that).



The crouton, a slice of French bread toasted hard so it doesn't disintegrate into the liquid is the correct way to serve this soup. I am not a lazy eater, but I must admit to being rather prissy. So I cut my French bread into cubes to further ease my freedom to enjoy.

Cut a small baguette into bite-sized pieces. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat in a heavy skillet until melted. Add a crushed clove of garlic and cook for a minute or two. Remove the garlic and add the bread cubes. Stir frequently until browned and crisp. Leftovers can be used later for delicious salad croutons.

As for the broth: I am not inclined to use meat broth in a recipe that would otherwise be vegetarian. I am trying awfully hard not to go on a tirade about the current trendy use of chicken broth in everything--cream of potato soup, cream of mushroom soup. I recently ordered Spinach Enchiladas in a Mexican restaurant and guess what it tasted like, spinach? cheese? enchilada sauce? No. Chicken! I've heard the old joke about unfamiliar meat which "tastes like chicken", but I have not started wanting my vegetables to taste like it.      Oops, 'scuse me.  

Lets talk miso. If you are not familiar, I hope you will research it and seek it out. It is a wonderfully health giving and flavorful paste. It makes a delicious broth and is what I have used for my soup. Use 2 - 3 tablespoons of dark miso per quart of water as a substitute for beef broth and 3 - 4 tablespoons of light miso per quart for chicken broth in recipes. But don't add the miso until the end of the cooking time as the enzymes will be destroyed by boiling. (More in an upcoming post about miso.)





French Style Miso Onion Soup
2 lbs. sweet onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 t. sugar or molasses
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 cup white wine or water
6 cups water, divided
3 Tbs. dark miso
A spring or two of fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste, being careful with the salt if using miso and also keep in mind the saltiness of the cheese.
2 - 3 Tbs. mirin or cognac, optional, but highly recommended

Cook onions slowly in melted butter and olive oil, covered, for about 20 minutes. Raise heat to moderate and stir in sugar or molasses to help the onions caramelize. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, for about 45 minutes to an hour. The onions should be an even deep golden brown color.

Stir in flour, cook and stir for about 3 minutes. Stir in wine and deglaze pan. Stir in 5 cups water and simmer, partially covered, for 30 to 40 minutes or more. Dissolve miso into 1 cup of very hot water and then stir into soup. Add the fresh thyme and the cognac, if using. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into serving bowls. Top with croutons and grated Emmental, Swiss, Mozzarella, and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese. Place under broiler to melt cheese or use a little torch like I did.




9 comments:

  1. I love the idea of using miso in this! And I so agree with you on the difficulty of eating this dish -- those strings of cheese that won't detach from the bowl (or spoon) aren't very attractive, are they? So good, though. Really good take on a classic dish -- thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, yes delicious (and frustrating). Thank you for visiting and commenting.

      Delete
  2. Rocquie, I don't see the miso in the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rosie, I modified the recipe--see if this makes it more clear. I apologize for the confusion and thank you for pointing it out to me.

      Delete
  3. Plus, Rocquie, you are so reading our minds - the mister and me. First you did the tomato soup, which I had a hankerin' for. Then, Mr. H. and I were just talking today about onion soup and now you post this! If you do a wild mushroom soup tomorrow, I will have to hurt you. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rosie, I guess we are on the same wave length! I did make mushroom soup, just haven't posted it yet. Happens to me all the time. I decide to cook something and suddenly see many others did too. It is fun to see others' take on the same dish. I can't wait to see your versions and thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lovely! I am glad I am not the only one who thinks that you should not have to fight with your food to eat it. I especially like the chunks of bread instead of a slice that most likely will have it's way with you in the bowl. Miso is something I will have to look into, but I have noticed it as an ingredient in more and more dishes and recipes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Melynda. Yes, miso is gaining popularity these days and that is a good thing. It is a very healthful, even healing food. I bet you will like it. Thank you for your comment.

      Delete