Monday, October 17, 2011

French Onion Soup in Bread Bowls

This was on my menu further down in the month, but last night seemed like a good night for it.  I usually leave the weekends free of typing so I can do more time consuming cooking or be lazy, whichever seems more appropriate.

Sunday started off pretty lazy, then when I realized all this week would likely be devoted to typing, I decided I should go ahead and pull out one of the more time consuming recipes I had planned for later in the month.

French onion soup takes no time at all, honestly.

2 cups of onion sliced into slivers
4 cups of beef broth or beef bullion prepared
2 cubes chicken bullion
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
a pat of butter
a bit of pepper

Melt the butter in the bottom of a pot, drop in the onions and cook covered over medium heat (not hot enough to caramelize) until they're soft and golden.  Stir them now and again.

Dump everything else in the pot, and bring it to a simmer.  Let it simmer for about 15 or so, so all the flavors can mingle.

That's all there is to it.  It's cheap, easy, and super good.

The bread bowls were a little more time consuming.  It took me around 3 hours total for those.

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture; beat well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.

Punch dough down, and divide into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 inch round loaf. Place loaves on lightly greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash.

This was just after I pulled them out of the oven for their second egg wash.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.

Done!  They were so pretty.  All but one.  The ugly one had to get eaten right away  with butter.  B and I split it :-P

To make bowls: Cut a 1/2 inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving 3/4-inch-thick shells. Fill bread bowls with hot soup and serve immediately.

Generally, if you order French Onion soup from a restaurant, it's served with crouton dropped in it and a slice of cheese over the top of the bowl.  This cheese is usually some variety of soft white cheese.  

I used Havarti, and popped the bowls back in the oven under the broiler to melt the cheese over the tops of the loaves.  

In case you're wondering, there are about 15 cups of flour in a 5 lb bag.  So you could get about 16 of these rolls per bag.  it comes out a bit cheaper to make them yourself.  Not a heck of a lot, but a bit.  If you buy fresh bakery rolls, it comes out a lot cheaper to make them yourself.  (and these are bigger!)

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