Sunday, September 29, 2013

Recipe: French Onion Soup

I pinned a recipe for slow-cooker Guinness french onion soup, and my sister-in-love asked me to tell her how it went. Well of course with an abundance on onions and just such a request, how could I resist?!

Original recipe here: http://www.theskinnyfork.com/blog/2013/2/25/crock-pot-guinness-french-onion-soup

Well I don't have internet at home right now, so when I went to make the soup I didn't have access to the recipe. Like I would have followed it anyway. So here's what I did, and then the usual "how I would make it better next time."

What I Did:

  • Julienned ~4 medium-sized red onions, and tossed them in the crockpot. 
  • Sliced 3 smallish leeks (minus the top half of the green parts which were wilty), rinsed well, and tossed those in. 
  • Crushed an entire head of garlic, where the head was only as big around as a quarter, maybe a little more--last year's garden garlic! I was also testing the theory that you don't need to peel the garlic when using a crusher. It was marginally effective, but with the cloves as small as they were, I only got about half the garlic. Meh. 
  • All that with some salt and pepper in the crockpot, let that go on high for an hour. I thought the recipe said 2 hours so I was a little worried when I had to toss the liquid in at an hour, but I was headed out for some impromptu socializing and wasn't going to sit around for an hour waiting on onions! They weren't as cooked as I'd have liked, but they looked delicious. 
  • Added 1 bottle beer, 1 box of beef broth, and STUPIDLY added about a half of that box of water. As soon as I finished dumping it in I realized that was pretty silly if I wasn't going to use beef bouillon. But it was done, so in went a scoop of bouillon granules. 
  • Completely forgot the vinegar mentioned in the recipe, and would have had to use malt and balsamic to get anything resembling red wine vinegar anyway, thanks to the grape allergy. 

When we went to serve it 6 hours later, it was good but...

  • The onions were pretty lackluster. They weren't caramelized when I added the liquid, they had a nice texture but still even too stiff after cooking int he liquid for so long. The leeks were divine though. 
  • It needed more flavor for the broth. Definitely regret adding the water, this soup is usually made with consomme or at least broth that has been reduced 75% so it's a pretty thick flavor and then it's often reduced further with the onions. I ended up adding more bouillon granules to mine in the bowl. 
  • The croutons were lackluster. I usually make mine my putting garlic butter on crostini, toasting on the flat cast iron griddle, then broiling with cheese on. This time I just put the frozen crostini on a pan, added the garlic butter on top, and broiled the cheese on top. The crostini got soggy in a kinda gross way because they weren't toasted as much. I did use swiss cheese since I had that, instead of the irish cheddar the recipe called for, but I've had it both ways and I don't think the Irish cheddar adds much. 

So.... I don't think this saves any time or effort, and definitely reduces the quality. I AM going to do it again, here's what I'd change:

  • I'll put the onions and garlic in with a bit more salt and pepper, and let them cook for at least 2 if not 4 hours. 
  • I'll use a homemade beef broth that's been properly reduced. Crockpots don't reduce foods well if at all, so it's either use bouillon (which frankly is fine if you can get a decent one) or use a LOT of broth and reduce it on the stove. 
  • I'd add a second bottle of guinness, and a lot more seasoning in general. 
I don't see this as much of a time-saver, really. You have to do all the steps anyway. But it is something that is certainly better the longer it cooks, and thus would be a benefit to make it ahead and put it in the crockpot. You can even toast the crostini earlier in the day. Then it's just a matter of broiling the cheese on the crostini and dinner is served. Great for when you have time early in the day but not at dinner time, not so great for actually saving steps or total minutes. 

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