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Half Microwaved/Half Baked French Onion Soup: Better Soup, less crying!

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I have a good feeling that a lot of our members at Instructables have probably never ever tasted what really good french onion soup tastes like because just like any good soup, its takes lots of sweat, tears, and time to make a really good French Onion Soup. As i've made some pretty good French Onion Soup in the past, I want to share with you a new technique of how to prepare French Onion Soup. (I believe its French because it supposedly involves the use of sherry in the Soup). The essentials of making really good french onion soup are:

-Not merely sweated or sauted onions, but rather a nice golden brown onion slivers
that have a bit of gooeyness, sweetness, and intensity of flavor due to converting the natural
starches within the Onion to nice Caramel overtones.
-Twice as much Onion as a regular recipe. I really love the onions and can't get enough of it.
-Piece of stale/Toasted bread to go on top of the French onion Soup. (Croutons)
-Time to simmer in all the flavors.

The recipe that i have been really successful with is: Note : If your going to use Dry white Wine, Use 5lbs of Sweet Onion. Otherwise Any White wine
           will do (and if your not 21 yet, white grape juice will do fine). Overall, i would recommend
           users to cook with Yellow onions as A) they are more available and B) May not be as
           sweet, but than again we don't want to eat candy soup do we?
 
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Step 1: Cut the Onions and...Microwave them!

What ingredients are involved in this step
-10 lbs of onions. sliced.
-1 stick of butter.
-Salt
-Crushed Black pepper.

Yes! The true secret to making really good French Onion soup is making sure that:

-The onion is cut into slivers.
-The onions are sufficiently sweated.
-There is that nice amount of gooeyness to the onions and are naturally brown
(you can't really get that from putting them in an oven...you loose that gooeyness)
-More Onions are always needed!

You ask yourself, "How am i supposed to sweat and caramelize 10 lbs worth of onions?" Well, if you were to use the old style of sweating and caramelizing the onions, you would **EASILY** consume 3 hours with at least 2 cast iron pans constantly attempting to sweat all those onions correctly and making sure we don't introduce any bitter burntness into the onion themselves.

*** How to Reduce Crying ***

In my mind, the easiest way to reduce crying is simply...Wear goggles. (wearing gogles
prevents the sulfuric gases from reacting with the moisture in your eyes...causing you to cry)
Don't Have Googles? Place the onions in the refrigerator until they are cold to the touch. (The ideal gas law we learned in chemistry says that gases will stay in solution if they are at a colder temperatures). Don't like doing either? Have a little fan by your cutting area to "blow" the fumes away from you. I am aware there is a technique to prevent the release of gasses by cutting the onion a certain way, but i even deem that too advanced.

***The No Sweat Technique*** to sweating and cooking onions.

By basically putting them into a microwave and covering them with plastic wrap, you are slowly cooking them at 220 degrees Fahrenheit, which happens to be the boiling point of water, and converting the starches inside the onions into sugars without burning them! In order to make the soup extra interesting, we will be:

-If doing 4 lbs batches, cover for 15 minutes with plastic wrap.
-Add salt and crushed black pepper (about 1 teaspoon-your will have about 3 batches),
-mix together. Microwave for an additional 10 minutes uncovered.

(Note: You can increase the speed of sweating your onions by using 2 microwaves)

Once you sweat them all initially, you want to place them on a plastic collander
which sits on a tiny bowl inside of a bigger bowl. This allows for it to further cook
while also separating the "onion juice" from the onions itself, helping it further
decrease the hydration of the onions.

You can taste-test the sweetness of the onions by cooking it in  10 minute intervals and tasting the sweetness of the onions . As long as there is a sufficient mass of moist onion, it will not burn or get too dry. After microwaving each batch for about 20 minutes, pour the liquids into another dish and either A) drink it or B) Use it to Caramelize your onions after they turn brown. Start to immediately Caramelize those ones. Be sure to save that liquid! We will be using it later.

By the way, if you ever want to make some really good toasted red potatoes and carrots, marinate them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and microwave them for about 5 minutes covered. This ensures they are moist on the inside and than throw them in the oven to develop a nice crust. 

SO overall the steps are:

10 minutes covered, add salt, 10 minutes uncovered (repeat for each of the 3 batches)
Put all the sweated onions in a collander on top of a bowl inside a larger bowl for 10 minutes.
Mix around and sweat for another 10 minutes.

(Note: The method is somewhat similar to the Cook Illustrated method, except the Cook Illustrated method assumes you have a dutch oven. By using indirect heat, it allows it to cook the onions at a fast speed without having to slaving the onions for about an hour. This step eliminates the need to sweat it initially and it reduces the volume of the onions so that you can use it for the next step...ideally in the oven inside a crockpot.)

Step 2: Caramelize and Deglaze the onions.

Ingredients involves in this step
-1.5 Cups Chardonnay
-All the onions
-1 stick of butter
-2 pans (the fastest way)

Time = Flavor (and love)

Two ways to caramelize onions

You can either do the traditional way, which involves 45 minutes of manually stirring the onions on high heat, or you can do the Cook Illustrated method of caramelizing onions (Here is a good illustration:   [Link HERE ]. For the container, you can either use a Dutch oven (recommended) or you can use a Crock pot at 400 Degrees (Remember-Caramelization happens at 410 degrees!). I did it the traditional way and it involved 45 minutes of slaving over the onion, slowly!
(I only did this because i didn't wanted to be caught placing my moms Crockpot in the stove!)

But, if you have a dutch oven or crockpot, i would recommend the Cook illustrated method in which you place the onions inside a crockpot at 400 degrees Fahrenheit inside your home oven and let it slowly caramelize. (no mixing is involved either!) As i did 10 lbs of onions as opposed to 5 lbs, overall the microwave method will save you another hour.

**** Deglaze the onions ****

Once you are confidant with the browning and flavor development of your yellow onions, place about 1 cup to 1.5 cups of Chardonnay, white wine, or Sherry (Never put red wine in it! Its bitterness and tannins will definitely kill the flavor!!!!) and make sure to scrape the frond on the sides and bottom of your pan to get all those caramelized flavors into your soup.

**** Pour the onions into the Crock Pot ****

Pour all the onions into the Crockpot. Simple enough right? Well, in order to get the rest of the flavor, i decided to deglaze the pan again (maybe i wanted to clean them with broth...) with Beef broth and made sure all the sides are clean (all onions and flavors should now be submerged in the beef broth). Clean the pans with broth and dump into the crock pot.

Step 3: Add onions to crock pot, have on high for 3 hours (or more!)

Picture of Add onions to crock pot, have on high for 3 hours (or more!)
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Ingredients involved in this step
-2 Teaspoons paprika
-6 cloves of smashed garlic
-64 oz of Garlic Broth and 28 oz of Chicken Broth

***** Garlic *****

Take 6 cloves or pearls from the garlic and cutt the ends off. Put the knife on top of the garlic and smash with your hand. By Smashing with your hand, you crush the garlic and make it easier to separate the skin from the garlic. Throw all 6 of the smashed garlic cloves into the soup. If your a bit more adventurous and have the resources, i would recommend adding either shallots, green onions, or Leeks on top of the pot. Anything from the Onion family will definitely help to improve its flavor.

**** Paprika ****

Mix in 2 tablespoons of paprika into the soup (enough said!). Give it a bit of spice.

**** Thyme ****

Mix in 3 sprigs or branches of Thyme into the soup. (Aromatics)

**** Cooking settings ****

-If you want to eat it within 3 hours, put it on high.
-If you want even better flavor, put it on low for at least 6 hours.
-If your crazy about flavor, but it on high for 3 hours and let it mingle on the off settings for the remainder of the night. (it will have at least 12 hour of slow flavor! Yummm)

As a good cook, make sure to taste your soup and adjust it your preferences.

Step 4: Pour and Serve

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After a sufficient amount of time and the Soup has simmered just a bit, If you like a bit thicker
consistency, consider adding 1 cup of hot soup to 1/2 Cup of flour and make sure to mix it throughly. Once you mix it thoroughly and it is without clumps, mix it back into the soup.
At this step, it is a good idea to taste your soup and adjust it for your preference.

-Add a bit more salt if you think its not salty enough
-More pepper if you think it needs a bit of kick,
-Add Cayenne pepper if you think its too sweet.
-Add a bit of Worcestershire sauce to give it more complexity (i forgot mines...)

**** How to serve French Onion Soup ****

-Now with our delicious French Onion soup, ladle a bit  of hot French onion soup into a bowl.
(doesn't have to be a Fancy Crock bowl...any bowl will do fine.)

Throw some croutons on. (Crouton never go stale...cause they already are stale. If it was my
bet, get either a crusty French Baguette or Sourdough to accompany your soup)

-Throw some shredded mozarella on the top.
(Many suggest Gruyere and Fonntina, But what am i going to use those for? Besides, there expensive and i make lots of pizza anyhow.)

-Garnish with a bit of sea salt or kosher Salt to finish it off.

-Broil. (you don't need to broil as the heat from the soup will naturally melt the cheese anyways)

Your good to go!!!

I hope you've learned a good amount of what it takes to make really good french onion soup. Though i could have improved it with making my own broth, its a almost (almost) painless way to make French Onion Soup.

timbit19852 years ago
You said 220F is boiling point of water, which is incorrect. 212F=100C which is the boiling point of water.

At what altitude?

EasefulApe4 years ago
Onions are like this?
compatta (author)  EasefulApe4 years ago
those are considered "brown" onions.
In my own cookings, I've found that a nice pale ale or other bitter beer works wonders in place of the wine.
mdeblasi14 years ago
I made this last week for my partner's birthday. Where the garlic idea was concerned I took a cue from French garlic soup. Put the cloves in whole to cook, then pureed the thoroughly softened garlic & returned it to the pot to help thicken the soup. I used about 5 very large cloves for the pot.
"Ogres are like onions!"
mikeasaurus4 years ago
mmm onions!