Monday, August 15, 2011

Michael Mina's Truffle-Infused French Onion Soup

I love French onion soup. Something about the rich and fatty flavor of buttered up caramelized onions topped with an unnecessarily large amount of melted cheese gets me every time. Even though I cooked up Michael Mina's rendition a few months ago because Seattle was being its usual cold, gray, and rainy self, I could just as easily have cooked this last weekend, when Seattle was being its cold...gray...and rainy self...In any case, the weather this summer got me thinking about this soup again.

I've always thought of French onion soup as something very high-brow and difficult to make. Thankfully, this recipe was probably one of the more accessible soups I've made. No double straining, no immersion blender, and no roasting annoyingly stiff squashes (butternut, I'm talking to you, buddy).

So, first things first. Get some butter melting.

Throw in a bunch of onions and a bay leaf (I made five servings instead of ten).

And then it becomes a game of patience. So. Much. Patience. Anyone who's caramelized a batch of onions knows how good they smell after just a few minutes. Imagine that multiplied by a hundred. Seriously. Nearly two hours of this torture.

Add in some flour (I used spelt flour and a bit of xantham gum) and some wine and reduce.

Add in a bundle of thyme.

Along with the beef stock.

And then it becomes another game of patience. So. Much. Patience. Only about a half an hour this time though.

Reduce and season with salt and pepper.

In the mean time, slather olive oil onto some slices of bread and throw them into a 350-degree oven.

About fifteen minutes later, nice and toasty.

Finally, add the truffled pecorino. I wanted to just add a ton of this stuff because the bowl in the recipe's picture is properly covered from lip to lip with melted cheese. But, after a shaving the cheese for a while, (1) I got lazy, and (2) the intense aroma of truffle got me thinking the truffle flavor would be way too overwhelming. For some reason I felt like having a more subtle truffle flavor, and I highly recommend you do the same. You don't get the same, gooey, cheesy effect, but I think the dish had more depth and the flavors worked together better.

Overall, the dish was rich, not too fatty, and pleasantly aromatic. The thyme went really well with the savory beef stock, which ended up balancing out the sweet, caramelized, wine-laden onions. The cheese was perfect and the toast added a nice, muffled crunch. The soup was comforting, hearty, and entirely satisfying.

I thought I'd have some leftovers since I only had two people over to help me eat this stuff, but before I knew it, I found myself scraping away at the bottom of the pan to get the last precious remnants of caramelized onion goodness.

The world would be a better place if everyone made this soup once in a while.


  1. curious as to why you have xantham gum in your pantry? it's a thickening agent, right? can i substitute cornstarch? :)

  2. Of course you can substitute corn starch! I just use xantham for diabetes' sake because it's a no-carb alternative.

  3. I just saw this. Looks delicious. Question - have you ever made beef or any other kind of stock before? I wish we lived in the same town so we could spend a day making it. I think a stock-making playdate would be fun and yield delicious results.

  4. It was pretty great. Also, stock day? That sounds awesome. I've made stocks before. They can be as long or as short of a time investment as you want, and overall, it's pretty easy to do.


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