McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

National News

November 9, 2011

Onion soup satisfies on chilly fall night

DETROIT — French onion is one of my favorite soups, especially in the fall. The hearty beef broth flavor, the silky melted cheese and the baguette slices toasted just right make it pure comfort food on a cool day. Add a side salad, and it becomes a complete, satisfying meal.

I think French onion soup is best when all the parts and pieces come together and you can taste each one. Sometimes restaurants layer the cheese on so thick that you need a knife to cut through it. Sometimes the broth is way too salty and the bread so mushy it disappears.

I don’t need all that extra fat and calories anyway or the hefty milligrams of sodium that many cheese varieties have.

One key to a tasty onion soup is the cooking of the onions. You can use plain yellow onions or sweet onions, but cook them slowly. Their natural sugars will release and melt, then brown or caramelize. If you hurry, the onions might become too crisp and brown too quickly, and their melting sugars can burn.

If the onions get too crunchy, it’s best to remove them from the pan and start over. Use the crisped onions for something else, like topping for a green bean casserole.

The way you slice the onions also matters. Slice them a good half-inch thick.

That way they won’t completely cook down to next to nothing.

It will take about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every so often, to properly caramelize onions. In the end, they should be a nice dark honey color.

Cheese is another factor with French onion soup. Gruyere, a cow s milk cheese with a slightly nutty flavor, often is used. But you can use many cheeses.

Today’s recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s. The original recipe calls for Morbier cheese, a creamy and mild cow’s milk cheese from France.

In this recipe, I substituted Muenster because it s a good melting cheese.

Fontina or Havarti are semisoft cheeses that melt well, so they too could

be substituted.

This soup is a cinch to put together and ideal to sip on a crisp fall night.

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