When it comes to selecting a French onion soup recipe, I find I am beginning to feel like the character Albert in The Birdcage.
Albert, brilliantly played by Nathan Lane, convincingly explains his mispronunciation of Armand’s surname in a context I find myself relating to. “Oh yes… Coldeman. The “d” is silent in America. It’s Cole D’Isle au Man, or Cole of the Isle of Man, in France, where Armand’s chateau is, Cold-e-man in Greece where Armand’s work is, and finally the vulgar Coleman in Florida where Armand’s home is, so actually, we don’t know where we are until we hear our last name pronounced! Ahahahahahahaaaaa!”
I feel his exaggerated pain, and let me tell you why. We live in Louisiana where we are heavily influenced by Creole and Cajun French. Our son attends university in Canada where we are influenced by Quebecois French. Actually, we don’t know where we are until we taste the food, the “who cares where we are as long as it is French” food! Ahahahahahahaaaaa!
Tonight’s menu will allow me to exercise my multilingual culinary skills. You’re definitely speaking my language when you’re talking French Onion Soup. I know where to go for the best French onion soup from coast to coast. My son’s friend holds the title in Canada. I have my own recipe met, mastered and magnifique. Cafe Bellagio and Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas both serve a fantastic French onion soup. I know the latter is a chain, but one taste of the French onion soup and you’ll understand! I would love to be on the Las Vegas strip right now watching the Fountains of Bellagio while enjoying French onion soup goodness. Since I’m not, I’ll bring a pinch of Paris, a dash of Creole, and a smidgen of Canada to the Places In The Home family table.
French Onion Soup
2 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 medium onions thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
½ cup white white or sherry
2 quarts (8 cups) low sodium beef broth
French bread baguette
8 slices Gruyère cheese
For Creole Seasoning
1/3 cup paprika
3 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon granulated onion
4 teaspoons dried thyme
4 teaspoons granulated garlic
Heat butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven over a medium- high heat. Add sliced onions and bay leaves to the pan, saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle sugar and Creole seasoning over onions, stir to incorporate.
Cook onions and company for 30 minutes or until softened and reaching a caramelized stage. Add sherry and bay leaves to onions. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn heat back up to medium-high and add beef broth. Allowing broth to heat through, reduce to simmer, and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes in order for ingredients to marry and live happily ever after. Remove bay leaves.
Slice French bread baguette and place on a baking sheet. Place under broiler until slices reach a light golden brown.
Place crocks, ramekins, or oven proof bowls on a large cookie sheet. Fill each with 1 cup soup. Place one slice French bread in each bowl and top with 1 cheese slice. Broil on high until cheese is melted and browned. Serves 8.
Directions for Creole Seasoning
In a medium bowl combine paprika, dried oregano, ground black pepper, dried basil, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated onion, dried thyme and granulated garlic. Stir to combine. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to three months.
The Paris influence is this wonderful soup, and to that I say merci beaucoup. The Creole influence is the addition of the Creole seasoning. We put it on everything here in Louisiana. Give a try, shâ. The Canadian influence? That’s the best part! Our son is home to enjoy this dish with us tonight! Bienvenue, Bon Appétit and C’est si bon!