AMERICAN Onion Soup

Vive la résistance!

A few things: 1) It's officially "wintry" enough in my world that I want to start talking about hot soup. Sorry, Phoenix. 2) Despite the subject line of this email (AMERICAN Onion Soup), I have nothing against French onion soup, at least in theory.

What I am against is that the majority of restaurants (French or otherwise) that serve this dish would have you believe that its most important component is a piece of toast blanketed in gooey cheese. If that were the case it should be called "open-face bread nacho with onion sauce" or something equally backwards. There's nothing wrong with a crisp crouton and melty gruyere (nothing at all!), but more often than not, the actual soup part of onion soup is kind of an afterthought (too sweet, not flavorful enough, basically a letdown, especially after you've dispatched of the cheesy bread part). 

So, here's my version, which prioritizes pulling as much flavor as possible out of the title character: onions. Maybe the reason that meh French onion soup remains viable on restaurant menus is that making a good version yourself is a process that can't be rushed. Properly caramelizing onions takes easily an hour; kind of no way around it. And homemade stock (if you're going that route) takes time too. Beef stock is classic for this soup, but I often prefer a rich vegetable stock with a few dried mushrooms added to the mix. 

Whichever you choose, if your onions are deeply browned and your stock is full of flavor, your soup will be really good. Good enough that you can even get away with skipping the bread and cheese, even if that would be un-American. 

—Mark

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