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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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Old 02-25-2012, 09:45 AM   #11
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You stand over the onions and stir until they are the brown color you want. My husband is the French onion soup chef in this house and you really can't go further than a few steps away.

A bit of oil in your butter will keep the butter from burning. Don't ask me why, but it works.

But the real key is patience. You really do need to stand right over it until the onions are the carmel color you're looking for.

My husband does such a great job of this that when he says he wants to do it, I buy beef soup bones and make stock for him if I know in advance. That way the herbs, etc, area already in the stock.

But the real bottom line, to me, is standing over the pot and stirring. Yes, you probably did have the heat too high. But even so, if you'd been right there you would have been able to rescue the onions before they burned.
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:46 AM   #12
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Oh, he doesn't use sugar either. He's looked up many recipes (we must have a couple hundred cookbooks, and that includes a couple of recipes of Julia's).
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Old 02-25-2012, 10:58 AM   #13
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Would it work to transfer the onions to a crockpot on low? This would reduce the need to stir constantly.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Would it work to transfer the onions to a crockpot on low? This would reduce the need to stir constantly.
Wouldn't help. I don't own a slow cooker.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taxlady

Wouldn't help. I don't own a slow cooker.
Good point.
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:25 PM   #16
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Margi´s French Onion Soup

My simple French onion soup recipe:

For 4:

2 medium onions
1 tblsp unsalted butter
1 tblsp Brandy ( optional however, traditional )
4 cups Beef or Veal Broth
freshly ground black pepper
salt
4 thick slices of French style Baguette ( cut to fit bowls being used )
1 cup grated Raclette ( has high heat point ) or Swiss Gruyère or French Emmenthal

1. cook onions in a 12" Non Stick Sauté Pan ( Not Teflon ) over a high heat, stirring constantly until caramelized 12 minutes - 14 minutes.
2. Add butter and toss onions to coat ( medium flame )
3. take the sauté pan off the burner and stir in Brandy
4. return the pan to the burner and continue simmering medium to low flame until all the Brandy is absorbed - 30 seconds.
5. add the stock and bring to simmer.
6. simmer until the soup broth is reduced to 4 cups.
7. season with salt and pepper
8: place bowls ( use earthenware clay or high heat proof ) on a rimmed baking sheet
9. divide the stock amongst the bowls
10. top each bowl with 2 pieces of French bread
11. sprinkle the bread with the grated cheese and bake 4 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly

*** serve with extra bread warmed from oven for dipping and extra cheese grated ...

*** a glass of red wine hits the spot too or white if you prefer ...

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Old 02-25-2012, 01:43 PM   #17
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Sounds yummy, Margi! Thanks!
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:54 PM   #18
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@ Dawgluver: French Onion Soup T.U.

Thanks for your thank u. It is a truly easy recipe too ...

Have nice wkend.
Margi.
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:17 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
Would it work to transfer the onions to a crockpot on low? This would reduce the need to stir constantly.
You would still need to brown the onions before transferring to the crock pot. Once you add the stock, it doesn't matter. It is the browning stage where you need to watch them.
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:24 PM   #20
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Sauté Onions on Low to Medium Flame To Caramelize

Good Evening Claire,

Sauté the onions on a low to medium flame to caramelize and stir often ... it shall take longer, however, u can do that.

I only sauté the onions with butter ( not with both butter and olive oil. )

Take it easy ...

Have a nice wkend.
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