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Old 02-24-2012, 09:42 PM   #1
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French Onion Soup Help

I made French onion soup for the first time. I used the recipe in Julia Child's The Way to Cook. It tastes wonderful.

My question is, how do you keep the onions from burning when you are cooking them down to "dark walnut brown". I think I lost half my onions to being burnt. By the time I burnt half the onions, it was 19h30 and I didn't want to spend another 40 minutes on onions, since there was still 1 1/2 hours of simmering.

I melted butter in a Dutch oven on medium and added some oil. I added my onions and put the lid on for 10 minutes. They were nice and translucent after 10 minutes so I added 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp sugar (for four cups of thinly sliced onions) and turned the heat up a tad. Maybe I didn't stir often enough, but within 15 minutes, the bottom of the pan was black with burnt on onion. What should I do next time?

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Old 02-24-2012, 10:08 PM   #2
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Turn the heat down a bit and skip the sugar. I also use oil instead of butter. I also splash a few times with some madeira or marsala.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:15 PM   #3
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Scrap the sugar. The onions will be sweet enough and the sugar burns. If you need a boost at the end, then the sugar can come in to play to help darken, but I have found you have to stand and stir to keep it from burning.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
Scrap the sugar. The onions will be sweet enough and the sugar burns. If you need a boost at the end, then the sugar can come in to play to help darken, but I have found you have to stand and stir to keep it from burning.
I have to stand and stir for the whole 30-40 minutes? Phooey. But, if that's what I have to do, then I guess I'll do it.

I like your idea of adding the sugar at the end if needed for darkening. That's why it was in there in the first place. 1/4 tsp sugar in 8 cups of sliced onions isn't going to add much in the way of sweetness or I would have skipped it. I don't much like sweet with savoury foods.

A friend of mine once made onion soup without a recipe. It was really, really sweet. He hadn't browned the onions at all
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:35 PM   #5
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I meant once you put the sugar in you have to stand and stir.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:56 PM   #6
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TL, I use a Julia Child recipe that starts the same way. You don't have to omit the sugar You may have the heat up too high. It shouldn't burn black but it can stick to the pan some. Just stir frequently and (this is the hardest part for me) be patient.
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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Sounds like your heat is a bit too high. You will get a build up of cooked on sugars on the bottom and you need to keep scraping them off as you go or they will eventually start to burn. Onions are full of sugar to begin with. I had a chef tell me that a bit of burning isn't a bad thing, it helps enrichen and color the broth when you add the stock.
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:11 PM   #8
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I burn my tapioca on purpose...

When I made French Onion for the bakery I had to cook down 20 pounds of onions in the tip over boiler. I never had it burn.
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:00 AM   #9
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Low and slow is the way to cook the onions. Stir frequently. You really have to keep an eye on them, but not standing over the stove for 1/2 hour.
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:33 AM   #10
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Your heat was simply too high.

The sugar is up to you. I never use it.
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