How to Make Onion Soup like a Pro
There is no single right way to make an onion soup recipe because there are lots of different onion soup recipes to choose from. Classic French onion soup recipes tend to be very similar, since French onion soup is known for its rich tasting caramelized onions, beef broth and cheese topped croutons, but there are lots of other onion soup recipes you can make too.
A good onion soup has to begin with a good broth. Beef broth is not essential and, if you are vegetarian, you can use a vegetable broth. Fish broth and chicken broth can work with onion soups too, depending on the other ingredients and the flavor you are aiming for. This will make a tasty onion soup but not an authentic French one.
Homemade broth is better than using bouillon cubes dissolved in water but if you are in a rush or that is all that is available, you can use a bouillon cube and make broth that way. If you are making traditional broth though, make plenty because it freezes well and you can use it in many different homemade soup recipes, not just recipes for French onion soup.
Different Types of French Onion Soup
If you talk to different chefs, you will discover that no two methods for making onion soup are the same. Some chefs use ground almonds, breadcrumbs, or flour to thicken the soup. Dijon mustard is a good onion soup addition because it gives a creamy tang to the onion soup, which complements both the broth and the onion flavor.
Some like to use thyme, bay leaves or garlic and you might find sherry, brandy, balsamic vinegar, Madeira, or wine added to the onion soup near the end of the cooking time. It is important to balance the natural sweet flavor of the slowly cooked onion and the strong flavor of the broiled Gruyere croutons. Wine or cider can make the cheese more digestible and will add a musty, earthy flavor.
Which Onions to Use in Onion Soup
A French onion soup recipe should be straightforward and simple to make but you might find yourself tearing up when you have to cut so many onions! Big, Spanish style onions are relatively mild and do not have strong tear-inducing fumes. Their skin is quite papery and thin too, which makes them easy to peel. An onion sliced by hand has a creamy and slippery texture, which goes so well in onion soup recipes.
Red onion is good to use in French onion soup because it has quite a strong flavor. You can use white onions too but might be best kept for salads because they are so mild.
Yellow and brown skinned onions are nice in easy French onion soup recipes but, to be honest, the type of onions you use in your onion soup is down to personal preference. Some people like strong flavored onions and others prefer a milder flavor. If you are using herbs in your soup, you might want to use a mild onion, so as not to overpower the aromatic and subtle herb flavor.
A good French onion soup should be rich brown, topped with croutons, and melted cheese. A final word on onion soup – it is one thing to learn how to make French onion soup like a pro but it is also important to eat it like a pro. French onion soup can be boiling hot, especially if it has just come out of the broiler or pan, so take care not to burn yourself when tasting it!
This photo shows decorative strands of fresh onions and garlic. Different onions have different flavors, you can mix, and match onion varieties to give your French onion soup a stronger or milder onion flavor. From the sweetest Vidalia onions on one end of the scale to the strongest and most pungent red onions and golden onions at the other end, you can take your pick when making a French onion soup recipe because all onions are flavorful in their own way and add a different taste to onion soup recipes. Garlic and onion are a natural pairing and these ingredients are blended in many onion soup recipes. Add a hearty broth, toasted bread and creamy French onion soup cheese and you have everything you need for the best French onion soup ever.
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