Dinners · Soup

French Onion Soup + Dip Sandwiches

The weather has finally caught up to the season, and it’s starting to seem like November in Michigan. It’s gray and cold and rainy and windy and I don’t care what anyone else says, it’s glorious! Give me a big sweater, some mittens and a kick-ass pair of boots and I’m ready and pumped for winter! Although I do love staying inside on cold November days, eating warm, comforting foods and watching the world prepare for the new season.

Everyone loves chicken noodle soup, but when it’s stormy outside I want a deep, rich soup that will truly satisfy me. I decided that it was time for some French Onion soup. I’ve always loved French Onion soup, but now that I’m lactose intolerant and can’t enjoy the delicious, crispy cheese on the top of the soup, something has been missing from the experience lately. Just beef broth and onions. Whoopee. I decided to make my own French Onion soup that was so intense and rich on its own that I wouldn’t even miss the cheese.

But Bronson said that we needed something else – he’s one of those dudes who can’t just have soup for dinner – so he picked up some deli roast beef and a massive baguette for French Dip sandwiches to go with the soup!

I started my soup by cutting three onions into julienne’d slices.

Then I browned them in a stewpot with some of my fancy vegan ‘butter’, salt and pepper. When the onions were translucent, I poured in some dark beer. This time around, I used Arcadia Ales‘ Loch Down Scotch Ale style beer. It’s from an awesome local brewery in Battle Creek, MI that makes a ton of unique and tasty brews! The Loch Down has a bit of sweetness to it, and I thought it would go well with the sweet onions that I used.

I wanted to pour in just enough beer to cover the onions, but this is an 8.5% beer and I’d already had one, so gravity got the best of me. I ended up pouring in a little more than half of the beer, a little too much in comparison to the onions, but it was still good. It all depends on how much of the beer flavor you want in the soup.

I kept the onions simmering in the beer for a while, until the alcohol and some of the liquid had cooked off, and then added three crushed cloves of garlic. I let that cook together for a few minutes and then poured in three quarts of beef broth. I added oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and let it simmer for an hour or so.

When the soup was close to done, Bronson started on the sandwiches. He used thin sliced roast beef, and cut it into strips. Then, he ladled some of the soup into a small frying pan, and added the beef when the liquid was hot to warm and brown it. Neither of us are a fan of the way some dip sandwiches are served with cold meat because when you dip it it into the hot broth, the meat inside becomes a weird, creepy room temperature. No one wants room temperature meat.

Lastly, we sliced sliced the baguette, toasted it and formed our sandwiches! I enjoyed setting up my plate with my bowl and sandwich to the side. Now I really want to buy some of those oblong dishes exactly for this purpose, it was only a little awkward on a perfectly circular plate. The soup was complex and rich, with the deep flavor from the beer and slight sweetness from the onions. Bronson had some provolone cheese, so he cut a few extra slices of baguette bread and laid cheese over them. Then he put them in his bowl and put it into the oven to broil. But he ate it immediately after it was ready, all gorgeously golden and crispy, before I could take a picture of it. Although his bowl looked pretty, this soup turned out exactly as I’d hoped it would be, and I didn’t miss the cheese at all.
The sandwiches were a perfect compliment to the soup. The crusty French bread gave way to the salty broth, and the beef inside was good and hot. It was great that we used the broth from the soup, because some of the onions made their way into the meat and were a nice addition in the sandwiches.

Here’s to cold Novembers, kick-ass boots and cozy soups! This soup will definitely keep you warm and satisfied this winter. Hopefully it will make the winter a little easier for those of you who can’t embrace those great, gray skies. Let’s get our hibernation on!

French Onion Soup

3 large sweet onions, julienne’d
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 quarts beef broth
1/3 of a dark beer
1-2 tablespoons butter or nondairy alternative
1 teaspoon thyme
teaspoon oregano

Brown onions in stewpot with butter. Add salt and pepper. When onions are translucent, add beer. Let simmer while alcohol and excess liquid cook off. Add  garlic. Pour in beef broth and add spices. Simmer for at least 1 hour.

French Dip Sandwich

1 baguette, cut into 1/6ths and slices
1 lb. roast beef, sliced
1/4 cup beef broth

Cut roast beef into strips. Warm in frying pan with broth until hot and light brown in color. Toast baguette and lay beef between slices. Dip into soup and blow your own mind!


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