Monday, April 15, 2013

julia child's french onion soup in the slow cooker

Last night, I was "Google hang-ing-out" with some friends from college.  Actually, before we get to that, can I preface this whole story with a little rant?  By saying that I don't understand why Google is now mandating that I have a Google + account to "hang out" with people?  And they make you sign up for Google + with your last name, which then pops up on your blog if you are using Blogger, which is a Google product.

Considering I write all these scandalous posts about food, I certainly don't want my whole name associated with my blog; it might ruin my professional reputation (not that I have one... maybe one day. ha.).  All things considered, though, I think it's very unfair of Google.  Fortunately, I was able to trick Google into thinking my last name is "wordsandwhisks."  Take that, overly nosey social media site!

Now that that's over with, we can go back to the story about my "Google hang-out" (what a mouthful... you can't easily turn that into a concise verb either).  One of my friends from college, Kathleen, was telling me that she is my most devoted blog follower and has made the most recipes from my site out of anybody.  Considering her extensive list, I have no doubt that she is correct in her assumption.

She said as my most devoted blog follower, she deserved a shout-out (hi, Kathleen!), and she also said that nothing that she makes in her crockpot ever turns out.  Well, Kathleen, here is a slow cooker recipe that has to turn out.  At the very least, I'm pretty sure it will turn out.  You just throw onions in a crockpot.  And, yes, Kathleen, I know you can buy French Onion Soup (and bread bowls for that matter) at Panera.  But this way is more fun, right? :  )

As for this recipe, you can make your onions ahead of time or before you're ready to use them; regardless of the route you choose, caramelizing your onions in the slow cooker really makes French onion soup far more convenient than caramelizing them on the stove.  Trust me with the cognac addition, too.

P.S.  As much as I would like to, I cannot take credit for the making of all of the soup.  I always make Nick slice onions for me, as he is a master onion slicer from watching numerous YouTube tutorials (mostly the one by Gordon Ramsay, I believe).

Adapted from this recipe and this recipe.

1 ½ to 2 pounds of onions, thinly sliced
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
6 tablespoons flour
½ cup dry white wine
8 cups beef stock (I make mine with beef bouillon cubes just prior to adding it to the soup)
3 tablespoons cognac (optional)
crusty bread for serving
lots of grated swiss cheese for serving

  1. Slice the onions and dump them in your slow cooker with the stick of butter, salt, and granulated sugar.   Stir all your ingredients together and then cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours, stirring occasionally.  I like to do everything ahead of time, so I put mine in my slow cooker right around 6 o'clock as I am making dinner the night before serving; then, I cook them on high for about 4 hours. Around 10 or 10:30 (i.e. before I go to bed), I remove them from the slow cooker, put them in the fridge, covered, and get them out the next morning for the next step.  Most important note here:  when your onions are done, they should be brown, golden, and soft; don't proceed to the next steps unless they are.
  2. When ready to make your soup, remove the onions from the fridge if you've left them there or just leave them in the slow cooker if you haven't.  If they're coming out of the fridge, set your slow cooker to high to help them warm up.  Stir in the flour and then the wine, and forget about it for about 15 minutes to let both ingredients cook with the onions.  After about fifteen minutes, add in the beef broth and set your slow cooker to low.  Set the timer on your slow cooker for 4 hours, such that your slow cooker goes to "warm" after the 4 hour time period (if you are going to be at work/school).  Alternatively, you can just pull out your onions out of the fridge when you get home from work/school and then add the flour, wine, beef broth.  If you go this route, set your slow cooker to high after you add the beef broth and cook for about an hour.  This part is really only important for letting the caramelized onion flavor seep into the beef stock, so if you're going the hour route, test soup after an hour for flavor and warmth, and adjust time from there.
  3. When your soup is ready, stir in the cognac, if desired.
  4. When ready to serve, fill your bowl generously with grated Swiss cheese, then cover with the French onion soup; serve with crusty bread. 

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