French Onion Soup

I saw this picture and I thought “that is a lot of soup.” French Onion Soup is without a doubt one of the classic soup recipes of all time.  Everyone should have it in their repertoire.  It is easy and the pesentation looks great. I eat it every time I go to New York at AOC, a little restaurant around the corner from my apartment.

Owning a Sushi restaurant is limiting culinarily. Obviously everything is raw, or mostly raw, and usually the hot food is Asian or Asian based. I miss classic European cooking. Oh, to that effect, I also have a funny French Onion Soup story.

I worked for a true, asshole, French Chef.  Most French people I meet are really nice, but this guy, GIGANTIC A-HOLE. He likes Gruyere Cheese on his French Onion Soup, which, is the traditional recipe. The cheese is gooey and provides a nice contrast to the soup.  One day he caught me mixing some leftover Mozzarella in with the Gruyere and I was given a long lecture on traditional cooking.  That is not the funny part. At one point, I made the mistake of referring to him as a cook. It was as if I had just spit in his sauce. He freaked. Then he uttered a phrase that has been responsible for much kitchen hilarity over the years. He said “I am not a cook. I do not crack eggs for a living. I AM A CHEF”. It was all I could do to keep a straight face. However, I really needed the job at the time.

You see, I love food. I love to cook. I love the restaurant business, but I also love to fling myself off of buildings with a parachute. I have always believed that I am a “cook” because I am, from a societal point of view, flawed. Don’t get me wrong, it is a noble profession.  I know many people who left Aspen for the “normal world” only to return to Aspen and the restaurant business  a year later with a “the normal world sucks” story and are still waiting tables, or cooking and skiing 140 days a year today. That is why Chef Pierre’s, that was his name,ego cracks me up. I do not know about him, but I became a Chef because I couldn’t finish college and become a lawyer like the rest of my family. It all worked out for the best.

I lasted about six (6) months with him and by a sheer miracle, he was fired by the restaurant owner for being an asshole. I never would have lasted.  I was the only other “Chef” who could cook the whole menu.  Chef Pierre called me at home and told me what was going on and asked me to meet him at the shooting range in the morning.  I was well into a bottle of vodka at the time, but I figured, booze, guns, OK!  I thought we were going to shoot so I brought my guns. I had my shotgun with about 1000 rounds, clay targets, and a couple of hand guns.  When I pulled up, he was there with this little 10 gauge with a pistol grip. As it turns out, he did not want to go sooting at all. He wanted to intimidate me into quitting with him and *&%$#^@ the owner. I did not pick up on this right away being terminally naive and quite hung over. I was just knocking clay pigeons out of the sky when I picked up on it. I told him that I was really sorry, however, I needed the job. To emphasize the point I emptied the clip of my 45 into the target and whipped out my 40 from my ankle holster and emptied it as well. He said he understood and I never heard from or saw him again. Here is the recipe…

French Onion Soup Recipe (serves 6):
4 TBSP butter
1 1/4 cups onions sliced long ways and paper thin
1/2 cup flour
6 1/2 cups stock (any stock will do but I prefer a flavorful but thin beef stock)
Salt & Pepper to taste
6 slices of day old french banquette or any plain bread
3 cups (about) grated gruyere cheese
French Onion Soup Cooking Directions:
Melt butter in a sauce pan.  Add Salt and pepper, and then onions. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until onions are clear. Do not burn the butter. Add flour and cook stirring constantly. You end up with an onion roux. Add stock and continue to simmer. If you have a home made stock, then all your herb and garlic flavor will be in it already. If you use canned broth you may need to add garlic and herbs in the onion phase. I like a light broth so the true onion flavor comes through, but a little depth is still good. is a personal choice. Add finished soup to a heat proof bowl. Float bread in each bowl and immediately cover with cheese. The bread should cover the soup in the bowl so the cheese doesn’t sink. Finish under the broiler. The cheese should be bubbly and brown when done and don’t be afraid to add so much that it bubbles over the edge of the bowls.

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