Sunday, January 03, 2010


" The sun broke like an egg into a full sunset
and the water caught fire."

~ Pamela Johnson

January sunset
(Hubbard Lake)



(adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

“Onion soup sustains. The process of making it is somewhat like the process of learning love. It requires commitment, extraordinary effort, time, and will make you cry."

~ Ronni Lundy



6 pounds thinly sliced yellow onions

6 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. oil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

6 heaping Tbsp. flour

5 quarts good beef stock

2 cups dry white wine

coarse salt and cracked pepper

few drops of Kitchen Bouquet

12 Tbsp. Cognac

1 pound Swiss cheese*

1 - 1 1/2 pound assorted shredded cheddar, Colby and Swiss or Parmesan

  • Cook onions slowly in butter and oil in covered stockpot for 15 minutes.
  • Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in salt and sugar. Cook for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently until onions have turned deep golden brown. (Long slow cooking develops the deep, rich flavor).
  • Sprinkle in flour and stir 3 minutes. Off heat, blend in liquid. Add wine and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30-40 minutes, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning. Add Cognac and set aside until ready to serve. (*the Swiss cheese is a surprise. Place a big hunk in the bottom of the soup before assembling.)


(hard crusts of French bread for topping)

Slice several 3/4 - 1 inch pieces of French bread. Brush tops with cut garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in 325 degree oven about 30 minutes or until crusty brown.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place hot soup in oven-proof crocks. Slip in hunk of Swiss cheese. Top with croutes and finish with shredded cheese. Bake 20 minutes and finish browning under broiler. (Be careful serving ~ the 'lava' soup is VERY hot)


bg_garden said...

I so love your days at the Lake!
Happy New Year... this is breath-taking! Truly inspiring as always.
I am off on photo- study this week but hope to be back blogging soon.

Phillip Oliver said...

I've always wanted to make this. We have a restaurant in town that serves a famous french onion soup. Someone recently gave me a recipe that is supposed to taste just like it but I haven't tried it yet.

Shady Gardener said...

Joey, You have Perfect timing! I've wanted to try making French Onion Soup for a long time, but have never done it. I will look forward to trying your recipe. :-) Your photos are GREAT! The quotation about the soup is a good one.

RURAL said...

What a perfect recipe for this time of year. Can't wait to give it a go.

Love the mosaic.


Nutty Gnome said...

French Onion soup is an all time family favourite but I've never done it with a chunk of cheese in the bottom of the pan .....that's me off to the shops for more onions and some cheese then! :)

Happy New Year!

Chloe m said...

I have always wanted to try this kind soup. I will have to pick up some swiss cheese today on my market run. Thanks for sharing the thoughts and recipes.

Victoria said...

Oooh..Super lovely..a favorite in the household for many...great recipes! Yum!Awesome post!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Happy New year! I love French onion soup -- it's what I order *every* time I go to Panera. I always mean to try something new but I never do. Your recipe sounds even better, I'm sure!

Carol said...

Hi Joey! Gorgeous collage of the sunsets and I love the quote! Never thought of the sun like an egg ... I love it. French onion soup was always a favorite of mine but now I cannot eat onions! Alas! I like your addition of Cognac! Your croutes are perfect. Carol

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Joey, your fiery sunsets are beautiful. It has been overcast here for days. We did get one cloud free night and were able to see the blue moon. I had planned to go out and take some photos of the moonlight on the snow. With the temperature hovering at zero, I decided to stay inside.

joey said...

Thanks Bren ... we are so blessed to enjoy this beautiful piece of earth (the equinox sets directly across the lake). So interesting to see how the sun traverses across the horizon ... We are also blessed to be high on a hill (hard to tell from photos), which not only allows us to watch fronts coming in but also to view winter sunsets inside (it was -16 wind chill)!

Beware Phillip, this makes a BIG BATCH (we also love simply enjoying the rich broth). Browning the onions is a bit time-consuming but so important . Since it is so HOT, it makes a fun meal for visiting over :)

Thanks Shady and enjoy (it's a family favorite ... my son made it for his New Year's Eve bash and I ALWAYS make it in January! Friends 'come out of the woodwork' when they smell the onions caramelizing :)

Hi Jen and thanks ... do hope you enjoy this fun meal. BTW, left you a note on how awesome your photos look on my new iMac!

joey said...

Hi Nutty, the cheese is a fun surprise (like there's not enough fat already in the soup:) Happy 'Arctic Freeze' New Year!

Enjoy, Rosey ~ this HOT soup is perfect for this COLD weather ... stay warm!

Thanks Kiki! Soup is standard fare in this household ... when one is gone, another is on the stove!

Thank you, Carol ... sorry to hear you can't eat onions, Carol ... so just skip the onions and drink the Cognac!

Can we talk about the frigid weather, Marnie ~ we barely left the cottage except to visit friends for dinner. Because of our elevation and the angle of the sun in winter, we are blessed to see this sunset from inside! We are now back home ... snow showers but warmer.

lindalou said...

The soup sounds delicious and pretty easy. I've been working very hard to get over my fear of soup. Since I've made Ina's Potato soup successfully, I might be brave enough to try this one.

Great pictures of Hubbard Lake. Do you know where Lost Lake Woods is? My Uncle has a place up there and we've gone there for vacation in the past. I just love "Up North".

joey said...

Hum, Monica ... blogger comments often come in strange since yours, written earlier, just showed up. You might want to give this recipe a try ... it truly is easy. Stay warm!

Yes, Lindalou, Lost Lake Woods (have a 30s honeymoon pic of my parents under the old wooden sign) is very near (east) of Hubbard Lake and closer to Lake Huron. I've been going to the lake since I was 4 (we, the family, have 4 places there but since it's a big lake, 28 miles around, we are not all near. I agree, Up North is wonderful! Don't let this soup scare you ... it's very easy to make.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

What a great a Lundy quote! French Onion soup is my absolute favorite ~ though I have never worked up the courage to make it from scratch. :)

D said...

I love the quote, and even as well, French Onion Soup, but I won't let my husband see this particular blog. He would likely say, "Why don't we make some?" We, being me. ;)

joey said...

I well know, Di, there are other wonderful ways to spend our precious hours :)

Rose said...

Ymmm, I love French Onion Soup! I watched "Julie and Julia" this weekend, and this recipe reminded me of the scene where Julia Child is chopping a huge pile of onions, crying all the while. I think I'd be teary-eyed, too, after chopping 6 lbs. of onions:)

joey said...

Rose, this is Julia Child's 'tweaked' original recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, my bible for many years. My children would stick their tearing eyes and noses out the mail shoot when I began the long process of sauteing the onions ... now, this is one of their favorites!

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Happy New Year Joey!!!

Just think, the days are getting longer again.

Anonymous said...

Perfect, Joey, thanks! I have put this one into the recipe file to make soon. There is no better winter fare than this hearty and easy to make soup. All soups are good for winter, but there is something about this one with the cheese and croutons that makes it so soothing and sustaining. May this be the best year ever for you and yours, my friend! :-)

Anonymous said...

This is one of my ultra favourite soups, but I haven't made it for some happy to be reminded of it here and now I am in the mood for it...

Anonymous said...

PS: I forgot to say how stunning those sunsets are!

joey said...

Oh yes, Rob ... love it! Warm wishes for a Happy New Year.

I agree, Frances, soups are sustaining, fun to create, and better yet to enjoy. Thank you for your kind wishes that I too wish for you ... the best year ever! Always a delight to visit your fairegarden and a joy knowing you, dear friend :)

joey said...

French onion soup seems like everyone's favorite, Kate. Don't be afraid ... it's very easy to prepare and your loved ones will thank you :)

I bet you make a fabulous rich & wonderful French Onion Soup, ronelle! January chills always puts me in mood for this steamy, hot soup.

*Ulrike* said...

Yum! I so love French Onion soup! So perfect for this cold weather that we have been going through here in the south. We have not been this cold for so long since 1985! Thanks for the recipe too! Your pictures are gorgeous!

joey said...

Welcome *Ulrike* and thank you ~ Seems like we are all in the 'same boat'! The weather has been very strange for many this past autumn/winter ... so ... a pipping hot bowl of soup 'fits the fare'!

donna said...

Joey, when I have a need to satisfy my desire for good recipes, extraordinary photos and thoughtful quotes, I come to your blog.

The Village Voice is a very welcoming place to visit.


joey said...

You are a dear, Donna, and thank you! You have been an unexpected gift to me also and will look forward to a lovely New Year connecting and getting to know you better :)

anna/Flowergardengirl™ said...

The new book I"m reading, Carrots Love Tomatoes...talks a lot about onions as companion plants. Says they are a gardeners best friends for pest and disease. I'll let you know what I find out. Right after I dip my french bread in my last bite of onion soup.

joey said...

Aren't gardening books wonderful in winter, Anna! Fabulous photos filled with many hopes and dreams. Love how everyone is into organic vegetable gardening. Since I'm away so much, a variety of herbs and lettuces are about it for me. Good luck Toots and bon app├ętit!

Lucy Corrander said...

Hello Joey.

I've never been a fan of French Onion soup. Always considered it rather plain. But your's is far from plain! Very flavoursome and exotic by the recipe! Looks delicious in fact. I think I must always have had the short-cut version!

Best wishes for the year (and beyond!).


joey said...

Hardly plain, Lucy, the broth alone is very rich and tasty ... no shortcuts since the flavor depends on the slow browning of the caramelized onions. And best wishes to you also for a wonderful New Year!

Marysol said...

Wow! Just lovely.

I'll have the soup with a side of Hubbard Lake sunset, please.

Happy New Year my dear, creative friend!

joey said...

OK, you're on, dear Marysol! Call me ... :)