French Onion Soup, Gluten-Free and Downtown Style
Fall is right around the corner, I say reluctantly, with marginally less of a tan than I had at this time last year. As much as I wish not to wish summer away, I am a sucker for fall. I am a cozy sweater fiend, a pumpkin patch regular, and a lover of fall comfort food. That’s why I took it upon myself to prepare the masses for the fall season with French onion soup – Downtown style.
This was my first time attempting this dish that I had only seen in ominous pubs and restaurants, but just never thought to try it. It didn’t help of course, that I have Celiac Disease which prevents me from having gluten and therefore the bready, hearty, decadent soup such as this one.
It wasn’t until I saw a TikTok of the dish being made that I decided I had to have it – and modify it to be gluten-free – regardless of the fact that it is July.
I gathered my nearest family members and got to work. My family is full of restaurant industry veterans, two of which helped me achieve such a task. We didn’t follow a recipe and just went with our gut!
Here are the ingredients you will want to add to your grocery list:
- 3 onions; one white, one yellow, and one sweet.
- 4 garlic cloves
- Beef broth (or bouillon)
- 1 cup of Swiss
- 1 cup of gruyere
- Fresh thyme
- 1 gluten-free baguette
- Extra virgin olive oil
- White wine (we used Riesling)
- Salt and pepper to taste
The first task was to cut the onions. We used three variations; one white, one yellow, and one sweet. Slice them into slivers and toss them into a large pan on low heat. You’ll want this to be ideally large enough to house your whole soup. Prime your pan with a douse of EVOO and two pats of butter. Sweat and sauté the onions until they turn golden and completely caramelized.
In a pot on the side, prepare your broth. You can use beef broth for this, but instead, we boiled water and added beef bouillon. Add more or less to taste. Throw in some fresh thyme.
Once your onions are decadently caramelized, add in 3 cloves of minced garlic, a pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar. Let this flavorful mixture combine before de-glazing the pan with a splash of white wine. We used Riesling.
Next, you’ll want to ladle your broth into the onion pan. This will help to gradually introduce flavors before you pour the rest in. Go ahead and do that now. Let your soup simmer while you prepare your other ingredients.
Slice your baguette on the bias at about one inch. We used one from Against The Grain, the brand I go-to for all of my gluten-free recipes that involve bread. The bread is made from tapioca starch and mozzarella cheese, so it mimics that glutinous stretchy texture. It’s delicious. Pop the pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle your olive oil over them. Bake until lightly golden and crispy.
While you wait for your bread to toast, grate your Swiss and gruyere. Combine them in a separate bowl and set them aside.
Once the bread is out of the oven, rub a fresh-sliced clove of garlic to each face of every slice. This step is crucial and adds so much necessary flavor that really comes through in the end.
Ladle your soup into oven-safe bowls or ramekins, and top each with a few slices of bread. Work quickly as you can to avoid letting the bread sink into the soup. Top the ramekins with a generous helping of cheese. In hindsight, we could’ve topped ours with even more. Don’t be afraid to be generous.
Top each with more fresh thyme, and throw them back into the oven to broil for roughly five minutes.
Take the bubbly bowls of love out of the oven and dig in. Find that the bread soaks up the rich broth and that the umami flavor of the cheese pairs wonderfully with the sweet onions. I hope you love this dish a much as I do, having had it for the very first time. I certainly don’t think it will be my last. Bon appetit, Downtowners!
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