[Update: December 12, 2019 – See below for a new approach to carmelizing the onions more easily!]
This recipe was inspired by Husch Vineyards’ French Onion Soup recipe, modified a bit to suit our tastes better. Husch is a small family winery in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, just down the road from Navarro, Handley, Roederer, and some of our other favorites! Check here for a list of Anderson Valley wineries. Anderson Valley is one of the most beautiful California valleys and is on the road to Mendocino.
- 3 to 5 medium yellow onions (3 lbs), sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 cups chicken stock (substitute beef stock for stronger flavor)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup sherry or dry white wine
- Melt the butter and olive oil over a low heat in a large heavy-bottomed kettle. Add the onions and seasonings. Toss to coat the onion slices with butter/olive oil. Cover and cook on low heat until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes.
- Remove cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized. This is a slow process and will take about 45 minutes to one hour stirring every 10 minutes or so. Grab a good book and read near your stove!
- When nicely caramelized, add the chicken (or beef) stock, bay leaf, and sherry. Simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves four – just the best with some crunchy sourdough cheese bread for dipping!
Update: Carmelizing Onions
Thanks to Cooks Illustrated for this alternative approach to carmelizing onions for making this soup. This technique is faster and easier than the traditional approach described above. Here are the steps for this technique.
- 3 lbs yellow onions, sliced thin
- 3/4 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon water
- Slice onions thru the root (pole to pole)
- Place onions into 12-inch skillet with 3/4 cup of water, 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Boil over high heat, cover – until water evaporated and onions start to sizzle – about 10 mins
- Uncover, reduce heat to medium-high
- Using spatula, gently press onions into sides and bottom of skillet – without stirring – for about 30 seconds. Then stir, and gently press onions back into sides and bottom again. Repeat as needed until well browned and slightly sticky (15-20 mins).
- While the onions cook, combine 1/8 tsp of baking soda and 1 Tbsp of water in a bowl. Pour onto onions and stir constantly about 1 minute. Now done!
First posted: November 6, 2005. Updated: December 12, 2019