Alton Brown smiling
Alton Brown's Broth Switch For Richer French Onion Soup
A basic French onion soup recipe consists of caramelized onions, beef broth or stock, bread, and Gruyère cheese. Many top chefs, like Alton Brown, add their own twist to it.
Brown swaps the beef broth for beef consommé, a clarified version of brown beef stock or broth. Consommé is basically a classic French clear soup made with meat, poultry, or fish.
It is said that Louis XIV of France invented consommé when he requested a soup "so clear that he could see his kingly reflection in it," per The New York Times.
Consommé is clarified carefully without rapidly stirring or boiling and by boiling with egg whites before straining. A clear beef consommé is first simmered for several hours.
Then, the fat is removed, and the soup is strained through a damp cloth to give it its clarity. Although Brown’s recipe uses canned beef consommé, it still takes two hours to make.
Brown sweats peeled sweet onions cut into half-moons in butter for 20 minutes. He then slowly cooks them until they’re a deep reddish color and reduced to about two cups.
He then covers the onions in white wine, which he reduces until syrupy, and adds chicken broth and the canned beef consommé, the latter of which makes the soup taste richer.
Finally, Brown tops the soup with melted Gruyère or Fontina cheese on toasted bread. The traditional cheesy topping is what makes the dish one of the top classic comfort foods.