Whenever my husband and I go out to a restaurant to eat and he spots French onion soup on the menu, he orders it. Some is good, some is mediocre, and some is a flop. The best he ever ate comes from a small diner in his hometown. And I must say…this recipe is fairly close!
This recipe won first place at our local county fair over the summer! I entered a few other items as well, but this was probably my most unique entry!
We like to eat this soup with either a sliced venison tenderloin or toasted cheese sandwiches. It is actually rather filling, so some evenings I could eat just a bowl of this soup for dinner.
The base of the soup is beef stock. I usually just get some from the grocery store. I know I should make my own stock. I know venison stock would be much more healthy, and maybe one day I will make some and use it for French onion soup. But not today, folks!
Slicing onions is always fun. It’s a toss-up whether I will cry or not! Last year, I used onions from our garden. This year, our onions did not do well in the garden. So I purchased some bags of cooking onions at the farmers’ market for $.99 per 2 pound bag. There is one stand in particular that always has good prices on produce.
I remember the onion slicing portion taking longer last year. I think that may have been because our onions were smaller, so I had to peel more, which is the most tedious part of the process for me. It all went rather quickly and smoothly this time around!
I actually sliced the onions two days before I made the broth. (Try not to slice the onions too thin, since they cook down quite a bit throughout the whole process. You want the onions to still be recognizable by the end!) I kept them in gallon Ziploc bags in the garage because it has been so cold lately!
As I mixed up the broth and brought it to a boil on the stove, I began sweating the onions. I had to do them in three separate batches because there was just too many for one pan! I used a little bit of butter to sauté them. I have read that canning butter is a bad idea. It hasn’t gone wrong for me yet. I use the pressure canner, and the jars have sealed, and remained sealed, just fine! In all fairness, the jars don’t stay on our basement shelf that long! I write all that to say use caution, use your discretion, and be aware of any signs that canning butter is not a good idea.
Once the onions were soft and translucent, I stored them in a bowl until the broth was finished and jars were prepared. The onions do not need cooked all the way, as they will get completely cooked during the canning process.
As I said previously, beef stock is the base of the broth. Different companies make low-fat or reduced sodium versions, and those work just as well as plain stock. I added some dry red wine, parsley, granulated garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and black pepper.
After the broth simmered for about 20-30 minutes, I began filling jars. I washed and heated 6 quart jars, lids, and rings. Here’s a helpful hint: make sure you’ve got enough of the correct sized lids before getting the food ready to go in the jars! I nearly learned that lesson the hard way!
I filled all of the jars half full with onions, then poured broth into all of them, leaving about 1 inch headspace. (Remove the bay leaves first!)
I processed the jars in my pressure canner for 75 minutes at 11 pounds.
For the first time, I had a jar break while in the pressure canner. I’ve had jars break in water bath canners, but never in a pressure canner! That made me a little nervous, but thankfully, the bottom just popped off of the jar. It made a big mess in the water, but at least there weren’t shards of glass in the water.
We had some of the soup that night for dinner! It was so tasty! All I did was heated the soup, poured some into a ceramic dish, topped it with croutons and mozzarella cheese, then microwaved it until the cheese was melted. It really hit the spot!
If you are looking for some soup to just grab off the shelf for a quick and cozy dinner one evening, this soup is a good choice!
What are some of your favorite soups to can and eat?