Ever since I was a kid I have loved french onion soup. What's not to love, all that salty oniony, cheesy goodness. Of course as a kid it was Lipton Onion Soup Mix that rocked my world. Back then I had no concept of the obscene amount of sodium contained in each package, I just knew it was pretty tasty stuff that made weird things like meatloaf and sour cream palatable.
I think the first time I had real onion soup was at The Keg Steakhouse with my parents sometime in the early 80's. As a kid The Keg was pretty fine dining, it was an old school steakhouse with wood paneling everywhere and with historical photos of lumberjacks and gold rush miners hanging on the wall. They had a salad bar which I loved and I would pile my plate with baby corn and sunflower seeds. They served baked potatoes with all the fixings, traditional cuts of steak (I always had the bacon wrapped filet mignon, medium rare), sauteed mushrooms and Billy Miner Mudpie. I'm pretty sure the menu hasn't changed much in the last 30 years. I think the appetizers were pretty standard for a steakhouse at the time, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, I vaguely remember escargot and of course they had French Onion Soup.
Typically we didn't order appetizers, I mean we were having salad, baked potatoes, steak, not to mention the fact that I would also have worked my way through a couple Shirley Temples served with a side of maraschino cherries and I had to save room for mud pie so really why would you need an appetizer. Its no wonder I was a chubby kid. But I remember seeing that little brown earthenware bowl with the handle encrusted with golden bubbling melted cheese go by and I had to have that. I asked what it was and when my Dad told me French Onion Soup I was amazed. Until then I had only known French Onion Soup to be served in a coffee mug, simply boil water, add soup mix, stir, be careful not to burn your tongue. This delectable bowl of cheesy goodness can't possibly be the same thing! So I asked for a bowl, Mom said no, so I begged for a bowl, Dad said yes :)
I'm sure the Keg's French Onion soup was nothing special, most likely reconstituted broth that they topped up with some croutons and cheese and threw under a broiler but to my 7 or 8 year old taste buds it was heaven. And when I got home that night I discovered that we too had those cool little bowls with the handles, they must have been all the rage as a wedding gift in the 70's. So from then on I would boil water, add soup mix, stir, add croutons, add cheese and be careful not to burn my tongue. Now that was a fancy snack!
Anyway my favourite food blogger posted a recipe for REAL French Onion Soup and I couldn't resist. Besides I'm trying to have more meatless meals for us during the week and this recipe is perfect.
I need to go get those bowls from my Mom's house so I can make it again, but here's how it turned out.