I worked at a restaurant on the Sunset Strip in the 90s. It was a full service place offering a fusion of cuisines, but, among other things, it was known for a huge selection of fresh, made-from-scratch, authentic soups. French onion soup was always the most popular.I worked as one of the two chefs on the front line, and I was in charge of soups, salads, and cold appetizers. Authentic French onion soup was one of the soups that stayed on the menu at all times.
It was really popular, and it went fast. So, I made fresh batches of the onion soup base 3 to 4 times a week. I got very familiar with this dish – so familiar that after I stopped working at the restaurant, I didn’t have French onion soup for a few years! I guess I needed a hiatus.
Now, I have renewed my love for the soup that has become ubiquitous, but is notorious for being made incorrectly. Chefs wanting to take a short cut will often use canned broth and very pedestrian Swiss cheese as opposed to homemade beef stock and Gruyere cheese. There aren’t many things that go into this dish, so it is really important to use the best possible ingredients, and to make the broth from scratch. I suppose you can use canned stock if you’re short on time, but it’s just not going to taste the same. You might want to just wait until you have a little extra time to do it correctly. You won’t be sorry! Remember: you can make the beef stock in advance and freeze it for several months, so you don’t have to do that on the same day! I have included a link to the recipe for the beef stock below.
Have fun, and bon appetit!