"The recipe that follows makes my favorite onion soup these days.
Like every onion soup recipe, it's success depends on plenty of onions
and on cooking them very, very slowly until they are soft, sweet, and caramel-colored.
The pot is deglazed with white wine (the soup needs that touch of acidity) and then -
here's where my version is a little different and a lot heartier than most -
I simmer the onions with pieces of roasted beef shank, which enrich the broth profoundly and turn it into a full meal.
Onion soup is most tradionaly served au gratin, with a crouton of melted cheese forming a crust over the bowl.
Usually I skip the cheese and, instead, scoop out the marrow from the beef shanks,
and spoon it onto a hunk of crusty sourdough bread, sprinkle it with fleur de sel
(or lightly crushed coarse sea salt), and serve it alongside the soup.
Whether the soup is gratineed or served wth marrow,
you can finish off the bowl the wat diners at a Lyonaise bouchon would by doing what's called chabrot.
When there's just a little soup left in your bowl and only a lick of wine left in your glass, pour the wine into the soup,
swirl it around, and then drink the soup right from the bowl. It may not be very polite, but it's very traditional.
MAKES 6 STARTER or 4 MAIN-COURSE SERVINGS :
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 beef shank - ask the butcher to remove the marrow bone and cut it into 6 pieces (each about
1 1/2 to 2 inches long), to trim off the fat and nerves from the shank, and to cut the meat into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled, slit, germ removed, and finely chopped
2 pounds yellow or Spanish onions, peeled, trimmed, quartered, and finely sliced
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
Herb sachet (2 sprigs Italian parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 8 black peppercorns, and 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth)
2 quarts unsalted Beef or Chicken Stock, store-bough low-sodium beef or chicken broth, or water
4 to 6 (1 per serving) thick slices sourdough country bread
Fleur de sel or lightly crushed coarse sea salt
1. WARM THE OIL in a large nonstick saute pan or skillet over high heat.
When it is hot, season the cubes of beef all over with salt and pepper and toss them into the pan.
Cook, turning as needed, until the cubes are well browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside until needed.
2. MELT THE BUTTER in a Dutch oven or large casserole over medium heat.
Put the garlic and sliced onions into the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring regularly,
until the onions are very well colored - they should be a deep caramel color - about 30 to 40 minutes
(depending on your onions, you might need more time to color them seriously - be patient).
Dust the onions with the flour and cook, still stirring, for about 5 minutes, to toast the flour, rid it of its raw taste,
and incorporate it into the onions.
Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until the wine evaporates almost completely.
3. TOSS THE SEARED BEEF CUBES into the pot along with the herb sachet and stock or water.
Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 40 to 60 minutes, or until the beef is very tender.
Make certain to skim the soup often as it cooks.
4. WHILE THE SOUP IS SIMMERING, prepare the marrow bones.
Put the piecesof marrow bone into another pot and add enough cold water to cover them by about 2 inches.
Bring the water to the boil, lower the heat so that it simmers gently, and cook the bones for 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and set the pot of bones aside, leaving the bones in the water.
(If you're making ahead or planning to chill it, don't simmer the marrow bones until 30 to 40 minutes before serving time).
5. WHEN THE BEEF CUBES ARE TENDER, remove the sachet .
Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed.
(If you're not serving immediately, set it aside to cool, then cover and chill it; the soup can be kept in the refrigerator overnight.
Once the soup is cold, spoon off and discard any fat on the surface. Reheat before serving.)
6. AT SERVING TIME, toast the slices of bread - you can do this under the broiler.
TO SERVE : Drain the marrow bones and place them on a platter.
Ladle the steaming-hot soup into the warm soup bowls and serve the marrow bones and croutons on the side.
With everything on the table, everyone can help themselves to a bones, scooping out the marrow
(with a marrow or espresso spoon), spreading it over a piece of toast
and finishing the crouton with a sprinkle of fluer de sel or lightly crushed coarse sea salt.
TO DRINK : A red Saint-Joseph or Cornas from France's Rhone Valley" *
* "Café Boulud Cookbook", Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan, pp.14-16,
(With thanks to Daniel Boulud)
Also See :
THREE EXCELLENT GEORGE I & GEORGE III MARROW SCOOPS & SPOON
QUEEN ANNE & GEORGE I BRITANNIA SILVER MARROW SCOOPS :