When I launched Wanderlust and Piecrust, my goal was to share an equal amount of travel and food content. Initially, during the first launch in 2018, the blog was pretty travel forward. Then, last year I took some time to regroup in my personal life and neglected the space. When it came time to renew the domain, I decided to stick with it—this year, for me, like many of you, looked very different in my day planner. The universe had other plans. It seems that travel tips and city guides are less needed. Hopefully, that will change soon, but in the meantime, we will have to travel through food.
While looking through old pictures from trips I’ve taken abroad, one of my favorite travel memories is a trip I took to Europe in 2016. The trip was a mess. Two nights before my travel companion reneged and I was left to either forgo using my vacation time abroad or to go alone. I made the choice to go alone. I had left the country before, but up until this trip, it was only for work. Up until I started flying for work, I had only flown a total of 2 times my entire life. The appeal of free travel by this point felt like an obligation.I spent a week alone in Paris, and while I was initially nervous, It was the most relaxing trip I have ever gone on. I spent my days wandering through art museums and gardens, punctuated by stops in cafes and bistros. In between the Pain au Chocolats for breakfast and the bustle of dinner, I would often curl up on an outdoor patio, and people watch with an order of soupe a’ l’oignon (or as we call it, French onion soup) for lunch. A sharp contrast to now. I haven’t flown in over a month at this point. It feels weird to be quite literally stuck.
This recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s French onion soup, and While it cuts a few corners here and there, there is no substitution when it comes to the time needed to caramelize and cook down the onions. The ingredient list is short and sweet, so taking extra care to bring out the rich flavors that make up this simple recipe is a must.
French Onion Soup
- Dutch oven
- 4 pound White onions
- 1 cup Dry white wine
- 2 tbsp Unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 8 cups Beef broth
- 1 Baguette cut into 1-inch slices
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 bunch Fresh thyme
- 2 Cups Gruyere cheese
- In a dutch oven (I used a 6 quart, the absolute smallest you should use), melt butter on medium-high heat. Add in the onions, salt, and sugar. Cover and stir occasionally. Once the onions are translucent and have released their liquid a bit, remove the lid and cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the onions have caramelized. Pay extra attention to make sure they aren't burning and adjust the temperature accordingly. Stir occasionally to prevent browned bit from sticking to the bottom of the pan. This will take a bit, so be patient.
- Once the onions are cooked down, add the white wine. Continue to cook until nearly evaporated. Add broth, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
- While the soup is reducing, tear up your baguette or rustic loaf and toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast in an oven heated to 350° for about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
- Once the soup has cooked for about 30 minutes, remove the thyme and bay leaf. About 6 oven-safe bowls or large oven-safe ramekins, placed on a sheet pan, divide the soup evenly. Use one cup of the cheese to top the soup, place the toasted bread on the soup, and top with the remaining cup of cheese.
- With your oven set to 450° toast the tops of the soup until browned and bubbly—about 10 minutes. Keep watch to make sure they don't burn. Once they are toasted, allow the soup to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.