It’s finally starting to really feel like winter in Toronto these days. And there’s nothing more warming than a bowl of cheesy French onion soup. It’s like a big comforting hug on a day when it’s -15°C. Before moving back to Toronto a few years ago, I lived in Ottawa & Montreal for a good 10 years, so even -25°C was typical in the middle of winter. There were also huge amounts of snow, and in some strange way, made the four months of winter tolerable. Here in Toronto, things aren’t as winter wonderland(ish). It hardly ever snows, and when it does it turns into muddy slush puddles in a few hours. And you have to be very mindful otherwise you’ll be sure to get soaked by a passing bus. Believe me, I’ve had many close calls!
Anyways, back to this soup…I definitely wouldn’t call this “classic” French onion soup. You’ll notice some Asian and British ingredients that I use to season it. Don’t knock it until you try it though! My special man-friend didn’t notice any fishy flavours and demolished the entire bowl in maybe 3 minutes….max. So I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty tasty.
I also used Comté cheese instead of the typical Gruyère. This is something I’ve always found a bit strange. Gruyère is Swiss, and Comté is French…wouldn’t one think that Comté is the obvious choice? C’est la vie.
I also made by own homemade beef stock. But, I’ll warn you now, beef stock takes anywhere from 8-12 hours. And I know that time is precious these days. Truthfully, once the bones are out of the oven and into the stock pot, it’s pretty hands off. But…if you don’t want to babysit a stockpot all day then go ahead and use a good quality store-bought one. If you do have some time to spare, I highly suggest homemade beef stock is richer and more flavourful, which will add more depth to your soups and sauces. I’ve made French onion soup before but with store-bought stock, and I definitely noticed a more flavorsome broth this time around. See-ya never Campbell’s boxed beef stock!
So, if you’re like me and are already counting down the days until summer, then maybe this soup will help easy the pain a bit!
- 1kg beef bones cut into 5cm-7cm
- ½ kg veal bones 5-7cm pieces
- 1 onion, large dice
- 1 carrot, large dice
- 2 stalks celery, large dice
- 60g tomato paste
- 6L cold water
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- Bay leaves,
- 1 scant teaspoon Crushed white peppercorns
- 3 sprigs parsley stalks
- 2 lb medium onions, thinly slicked
- 2 cloves garlic, minched
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked off
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 6 cups homemade or store bought beef stock
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette
- 1.5 – 2 cups grated Comte cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Add bones to roasting pan and brown evenly, add tomato paste to the browned bones towards end of roasting time. Brown the carrots, onion, and celery in a large sauté pan and add to the browned bones and tomato paste once browned. Transfer browned bones and vegetables to a large stockpot. Remove excess fat from roasting pan, and deglaze pan with cold water. Add deglazing liquid to stockpot. Add cold water to cover bones and vegetables. Add spice bag and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 6-8 hours, skimming the surface frequently. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
- Heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add onions, garlic, thyme, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worchestershire sauce, and brown sugar. Turn down heat slightly and cook until onions are very soft – approximately 30 min.
- Add flour to coat the onions. Stir in white wine and cook until almost all of the wine has evaporated. Add bay leaves, thyme, and a good pinch of pepper. Add beef stock and simmer on low-medium heat for 60 – 80 min. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Just before you’re ready to heat, preheat the broiler to high. Portion the soup into individual soup bowls. Place two pieces of baguette into each bowl and cover with cheese.
- Put soup bowls on a baking sheet and under the broiler for 30 seconds – 1 minute, or until the cheese is bubbling and brown. Make sure to keep an eye out – it will melt very quickly!