Today is my dad’s birthday! I miss him a lot! He is one of the only persons that can fight with me for the last piece of pork blood sausage on the plate. Ok, now I’m missing this kind of sausage too! Anyway, this is a topic for another moment.
My dad, well, I can’t think about my dad without thinking about food. Our relationship happened pretty much around the table. The time we had to talk was almost exclusively the time we had to eat. But don’t take me wrong, I spent more time with him than you are thinking. The time to eat in Brazil is different, we can seat at the table with no time to get off, we can eat slowly while we talk, laugh, discuss, argument and even cry. Even nowadays, every time I get to visit my parents home I meet my dad around a portion of something, usually some pork related food. And this was the way I got from him a very peculiar taste, a taste for things like chicken livers and feet or pork feet and “knees”.
And, if there is one thing that makes me look like him, besides the eyes, is the way we eat; if there is still food on the table, we keep eating, slowly and steadily.
Surprisingly, I didn’t get many chances to cook for him in my life. Maybe, unconsciously, I’m always waiting for my dad to present me something new instead of me preparing something for us. Maybe, unconsciously, I know he will always get home with something tasty.
But today is his birthday and it’s my time to call it back: a French onion soup to tell my dad hi is special to me. I know an onion soup is everything but innovative. But it’s something I can say I really know how to do, something that would make my dad proud.
I decided to use a variety of onions for this recipe. Basically I bought all kinds of onions I found at the grocery store but the red ones; yellow, sweet, teardrop-shaped, rounded, white, cipolline, French shallots that, despite their purple-ish color, don’t compromise the tones of my soup. Yeah, I care about the color and for some reason this soup, in my mind will always be brown. But if you want to, don’t hesitate in buying the red onions. The soup will be yours, you can pick the color.
In a large saucepan, sauté bacon in medium high heat until crisp. Add butter and let it melt completely. Add onions, sugar, salt and sauté in medium heat until brown in color and well caramelized. This step may take 30 minutes to an hour and requires some attention.
Add flour and sauté for extra 2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add white wine and keep cooking for 3 more minutes. In this stage, the onions may be looking like a thick batter. So, add beef stock slowly, until the “batter” is completely solved and the soup looks homogeneous.
Add bouquet garni, freshly grounded bleck pepper and ajust salt. Continue cooking for about 15 miutes or until soup looks thick and creamy.
Meanwhile, prepare the bread. Cut garlic glove in halves and rub the cut face in each slice of baguette. Set them aside.
To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls, bread bowls* or one large casserole dish. Heat the oven (broiler) to 350˚ F. Pour the soup into the dish of your choice, cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 5 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
*To make bread bowls, buy four small sourdough rouds, Remove the top third of each loaf and scoop out center, leaving 1/2″ all around. Place bread on baking sheet and bake at 350˚F until lightly toasted and it’s ready to be used.
And the last tip: this soup is even better when prepared with homemade beef stock. If you really love the kitchen room, go for it. It’s totally worth the hard work.