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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

French Onion Soup - Bon Appétit

In Santa Barbara we have an incredible french restaurant which is nothing to look at inside but the food was really delicious. The one thing that stood out at the meal we had was their French Onion Soup. The broth had a savory quality and the gruyere cheese and that wonderful toasted bread under that cheesy layer just made it the perfect soup. I have since then tried several versions whenever we go out to dinner to compare the final products but Mimosa has the best hands down.

Since this basic soup is beef broth, herbs, and onions I decided it would be a fantastic soup to put up in jars and then heat later with homemade croutons and gruyere cheese. I put this recipe up this weekend and it's fantastic. It's super simple but because the onions are bathing in the beef broth/stock in that jar it can only get better with time.

Here is the recipe for the French Onion soup base and then how to make the soup when you are ready to serve. 


French Onion Soup

8 cups sliced 1/4" onions 
1 T. olive oil - for sauting only
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine
8 cups beef broth/stock
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. black pepper


Onions in stock before putting in jars.
Preparation: Fill your pressure canner with 2 to 3 inches of water and place the rack at the bottom. Please follow the instructions that came with your canner for adding the amount of water. Begin heating the water in the bottom of the canner with the lid off.

Food Preparation: In a large frying pan sauté the onions in batches using the olive oil and adding just enough for them not to burn. Cook for about 15 minutes till they are cooked down but not soft. The pressure canner will do the work of cooking them the rest of the way
but not enough for them to be mushy. Put the onions in a bowl and set aside.  Once all the onions are done in a stainless steel pot or enameled dutch oven add broth/stock, water, wine, thyme and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, turn down to low and add the onions. Leave in pot for 3-5 minutes while you get the jars ready to fill. Remove from heat  

Filling the jars: You will need 6 pint jars. Put your canning funnel on the jar and using tongs pull out the onion and add some to each jar. I would say about 1/2 cup each if you are going to measure otherwise you can eyeball that each jar gets “a loose” half  full in each pint.  Now taking your ladle add broth/stock to each of the pints filling them to 1” headspace. You will find that the herbs have sunk to the bottom of the pot. Using a spoon add some to each jar. There is no salt in this recipe since the broth/stock has plenty naturally. Remove air bubbles with your rubber spatula or chopsticks and refill if necessary. Taking a clean damp papertowel, wipe the rims of the jars removing any food particles that would interfere with a good seal for your lids. Using your magic wand extract the lids from the hot water and place them on the now cleaned rims. Add your rings to the tops of each of the jars and turn to seal just "finger tight".

Processing: Make sure your canning water has come to a simmer and place the jars in the pressure canner.  Lock the lid and turn up the heat bring the canner to a boil. Vent steam for 10 minutes and then close the vent by adding the weighted gauge or pressure regulator (for dial gauge canner). Process pints for 60 minutes and quarts for 75 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure (11 lbs for dial gauge canner).  Adjust pressure for altitude. When complete turn off the heat and let pressure return to zero naturally. If you have a lid lock you will want to wait till the lock drops. Wait two minutes longer and remove the weighted gauge or pressure regulator. Remove canner lid. Wait 10 minutes then remove jars and place on dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.

Sealing: Some time in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal. Remove rings for storage.


To make French Onion Soup:
Additional Ingredients:

1 baguette
1/2 lbs grated gruyere cheese


When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere cheese and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Ladle the soup in bowls or crocks and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top. 
Mimosa French Onion Soup! 
Alternative method: Ladle the soup into crocks, top each with 2 slices of toasted baguette and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to melt the cheese.