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Roy Choi French Onion Soup

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  • jhapka
    Club Member
    • May 2019
    • 61
    • Gilbert AZ
    • 22" Weber Kettle w/ SnS
      Pit Barrel Cooker

    Roy Choi French Onion Soup

    Hey folks. I was watching The Chef Show on Netflix and the last episode of volume II Roy Choi made his onion soup in an onion bowl that won him some accolades in the 1990s. This show doesn't post written recipes and from what Jon Favreau often complains about, Roy doesn't really have recipes rigid enough to write down. I love french onion soup and watched this episode a billion times to recreate it, and it was absolutely amazing. I went through a lot of trouble to figure it out so hopefully somebody else will find a use for it. I did not do the onion bowl so watch the show for that part if you desire.

    The big technique feature on this one is to cook the onions down slowly creating more of a jam than a pile of onions caramelized on high heat. It took about an hour to do the onions right for me. Worth it.

    French Onion Soup

    5 large yellow onions sliced in half and then thinly sliced across grain
    Olive oil to cover bottom of stock pot
    64 oz beef stock
    2 bay leaves
    4 thyme sprigs
    Kosher Salt
    Black Pepper
    Pat of butter
    4 fl oz Beer, sherry, or brandy - avoid artificial flavors
    2 T flour

    Emmental or baby Swiss

    Sourdough bread
    Kosher salt to taste

    Preheat oven 400 F. Slice sourdough loaf into half inch slices at an angle. Place on baking sheet and douse generously with EVOO sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake until golden brown 12-15 minutes.

    Coat bottom of stock pot with a layer of EVOO and heat to medium-low. Toss in an onion slice and look for active bubbling but not frying. Dump all onions into pot and increase to medium heat. Stir occasionally not allowing onions to fry or brown too quickly. Do not stir too often, some fond should form on the bottom of the pot by the time the onions are cooked. When onions become translucent and begin to break down add salt and pepper generously or to taste. Continue stirring occasionally until the onions break down even more, then add pat of butter. If liquid fats (EVOO and butter) bubble far above surface layer of onions, drain some of the liquid and add back to broth later. Continue stirring occasionally until onions break down to become light to medium brown and slimy. Increase heat to high. Move onions to one side and add 3-4 ounces of alcohol to deglaze. Scrape up fond with spatula and mix into onions. Apply a light coating of flour to onions, just enough to add structure. Add bay leaf and thyme. Pour in beef stock and bring to boil. Lower to a simmer for 30 minutes.

    Place two crostini in an oven safe bowl and top with soup leaving room at the top. Cover generously with cheese and place in oven under broiler until brown and bubbly. It helps to have wide slices of cheese that will catch the rim of the bowl and not sink into the soup, then the melted cheese will drip down the sides of the bowl.
  • DurhamBuckeye
    Club Member
    • Jul 2019
    • 18
    • Durham, NC

    The big technique feature on this one is to cook the onions down slowly creating more of a jam than a pile of onions caramelized on high heat. It took about an hour to do the onions right for me. Worth it.
    I think this is key for carmelizing onions. Take your time, do it low and slow. Don't take shortcuts, and distrust any recipe that has you add lots of sugar to onions to speed up the carmelization.

    We use Julia Child's onion soup recipe, which is very similar to this, in terms of both technique and ingredients. It's fantastic. I think it's one of those dishes where good technique and a few high quality ingredients is what you need. Simpler is better.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Steve B
      Club Member
      • Jun 2016
      • 2608
      • Rockland county New York
      • Lonestar Grillz 24x36 offset smoker, grill, w/ main chamber charcoal grate and 3 tel-tru thermometers - left, right and center
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        food saver vacuum sealer
        TSM harvest food dehydrator

      Thanks for posting this jhapka I was thinking about French onion soup earlier today as I was staring at a large Spanish onion on my counter.
      I will definitely be making this over the weekend.

      Copied and pasted to my notes. 👍
      Last edited by Steve B; October 17th, 2019, 01:03 PM.


      • Troutman
        Club Member
        • Aug 2017
        • 6489
        • Republic of Texallence

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        Wow this is really well done and thought through. Gotta admit a good bowl of french onion soup, with the baked on cheese topping over running the sides of the bowl, is heavenly. Thanks for posting this and taking the time to research and write it down.

        Just copied into Paprika. Will be trying this winter for sure !!
        Last edited by Troutman; October 17th, 2019, 02:08 PM.


        • RonB
          Club Member
          • Apr 2016
          • 11024
          • Near Richmond VA
          • Weber Performer Deluxe
            Pizza insert
            Smokenator 1000
            Cookshack Smokette Elite
            2 Thermapens
            lots of probes.

          Add me to the list of onion soup lovers. I will give this a go in the near future. And thanx for posting.


          • mountainsmoker
            Club Member
            • Jun 2019
            • 1463
            • Bryson City, NC

            We love FOS and this sounds similar to how we make it. The slow cooking of the onions is the key. Beer is a no-no but brandy or sherry is fine. Cheese should be one of the melting ones like gruyere, it's my favorite.

            This sounds excellent and hope you try it.


            • HawkerXP
              Club Member
              • Jul 2016
              • 4158
              • Northern Virginia
              • 3 Weber kettles, and a PBC
                Dot w two probes
                Slo n Sear
                Cold beer

              Thanks for sharing and all that viewing!!


              • JeffJ
                Charter Member
                • Feb 2015
                • 2312
                • Michigan
                • Jeff

                Having made French onion soup on a number of occasions, I have a few tips.

                1. Homemade beef stock. I can't emphasize this enough. The store-bought stuff is fine in a pinch, but for something decadent like this soup, it has to be made from scratch.

                2. As mentioned up thread - be patient with the onions. It takes an hour to properly caramelize onions. The more the merrier when it comes to onions. 8 large onions seems like a ton when it barely fits in the pot, but after an hour it's amazing how much it reduces down.

                3. After the onions reduce down I add a pint of bourbon, 1/3 at a time. The 1st 2/3 I completely evaporate into the onions. The final 1/3 I mostly evaporate but do leave a little bit of liquid.

                4. Gruyere cheese. It's expensive as heck but it really makes a difference as opposed to, say, Swiss cheese.

                Typically I'll make the soup a couple of days ahead of time and will refrigerate it. Then, reheat it in the microwave, plop the large crouton (I like sourdough that I'll dry out in the oven after brushing it with olive oil and seasoning it) into an oven-safe bowl. Pour in the soup and top it with Gruyere cheese. Put the bowls on a baking sheet and put it in the oven and crank the broiler. Once the cheese melts and takes on some color you are all set.

                Once you've had no-corners-cut homemade French onion soup you'll find it very hard to ever order it at a restaurant again.


                • Santamarina
                  Santamarina commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Sounds like excellent tips. Thank you. Really love the idea of making the soup ahead. I imagine the rich complexity will take on a new level. I love to make chili and marinara a day ahead...this probably benefits the same way.

                • JeffJ
                  JeffJ commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Santamarina Yes. I also make chili and marinara in advance. Extra time to meld.



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