There’s something incredibly comforting about Baked French Onion Soup. Who am I kidding? It’s probably the broiled cheese and crouton together with a rich broth. I thought I’d try something a little different. How about Smoked French Onion Soup?
This soup takes a little while, but it’s worth it in the end.
- 3 pounds of Vidalia onions (or other sweet onions)
- 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
- Coarse Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 2 more Tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
- 64 ounces of beef broth (2 boxes)
- 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
- Shredded mozzarella, swiss, provolone, or some other good melting cheese
- Large Stock Pot
- Smoker heated to 250 degrees
- Mesquite or Oak wood chips
Cut the tops off of your onions. Peel the outer layer off the onions. You can also trim the bottoms off a bit so they sit flat. If you can leave the bottom intact, it will make it easier to slice the softened onions later, but either way works.
Brush the onion tops with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
Place the onions in your smoker. Leave them there for 2-3 hours or until they soften and begin to caramelize. If you want an intensely smokey soup, go ahead and leave them in there longer. There’s a lot of broth, so it can handle the smoke.
Peel the outer layer off of the onions. It will have dried out considerably and become quite tough. Slice the onions into rings or pieces. I cut the onions in half, top to bottom, and then sliced.
Heat your stock put over a medium high flame. Add the other 2 tablespoons of oil and the garlic to the pot. Cook until softened and you can smell the garlic. About 2-3 minutes.
Add your onions to the pot. At this point, you have control over how caramelized your onions get. If you want them deeply caramelized, add a cup or two of your beef broth and simmer as long as it take to get them where you want them. You can also just lightly saute these onions for a few minutes before adding all of your broth.
Add the rest of you broth, if you haven’t done so already. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, but preferably up to a couple of hours. The longer it simmers, the deeper the onion flavor and the more the smoke in the onions penetrates the broth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Turn your broiler on to high. Pour your soup into ovenproof bowls or ramekins. Place the bowls on a cookie sheet to make broiling easier.
Place a piece or two of the toasted baguette on top of the soup.
Sprinkle Generously with cheese and put in the oven. Keep your eye on your soup. The cheese will melt in only a couple of minutes. Some say the cheese should just be melted. I like it to start turning golden brown. Your choice.
Here’s the masterpiece! It’s great on a cold day — Especially when you’ve braved the cold to smoke the onions in the first place.
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda’s
- Feel free to add some herbs to the broth toward the end of the simmer session. Keep in mind that this is supposed to be a clean broth, so keep the herbs very finely chopped.
- Add some red wine when caramelizing the onions instead of the broth. It will deepen the flavor and now your soup has wine in it.
- You could put the baguette in the bottom of the bowl before adding the soup. I think it’s fine this way as well, but I really like cheese toast, plus my bowls are really shallow.
- Try smoking the onions with either a wine bath or using wood chips made from old wine barrels. That should deepen the flavor even more.