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Roy Choi French Onion Soup

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  • jhapka
    Club Member
    • May 2019
    • 209
    • Grand Rapids, MN
    • 26" Weber Kettle w/ SnS XL
      Pit Barrel Cooker
      Fireboard and Pit Viper fan w/ Adaptors for both

    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
    • 20
    • 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
      • 3006
      • 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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      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 17, 2019, 01:03 PM.


      • Cheef
        Cheef commented
        Editing a comment
        Steve B your comment that it is copied to your notes caught my attention.
        Is there a not section on this site to keep track of recipes we would like quick access to?
    • Troutman
      Club Member
      • Aug 2017
      • 7286
      • Tejas, Where Else?




        SOUS VIDE


      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 17, 2019, 02:08 PM.


      • RonB
        Club Member
        • Apr 2016
        • 12863
        • 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
          Banned Former Member
          • Jun 2019
          • 1850
          • 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
            • 5674
            • Virginia
            • 2 Weber Performers, 1 kettle, 1 Smoky Joe and a PBC
              Dot and Chef Alarm with probes
              Slo n Sear
              Cold beer

            Thanks for sharing and all that viewing!!


            • JeffJ
              Charter Member
              • Feb 2015
              • 2414
              • 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.
            • EGarcia
              Former Member
              • Oct 2020
              • 1

              Thanks for the recipe!
              My onions are sweating a lot, and I took out the juice and put it in the broth, but there's still too much liquid and zero browning, even though it's been cooking for a while now. Any recommendations?


              • jhapka
                jhapka commented
                Editing a comment
                EGarcia Sometimes they just sweat a bunch and I usually just bump up the heat and reserve some of the liquid like you’ve done. The first time I made the recipe it took 90 minutes just to caramelize the onions and I went with a little higher heat each time. The goal is just not to quick fry them because they don’t release as much sugar.
                Last edited by jhapka; October 15, 2020, 05:42 PM.
            • FireMan
              Charter Member
              • Jul 2015
              • 7708
              • Bottom of Winnebago

              Wow! Somehow I missed this post when it came out. I love a great F O soup, which has been a problem ever since I had an exsquisite bowl some 40+ years ago up in Copper Harbor MI (look it up). After about 20 years I quit even looking for it cuz nuthin could ever come close to matching that bowl. This gives me an idea, just may try it. Thanks.


              • Mosca
                Charter Member
                • Oct 2014
                • 3501
                • PA
                • Large Big Green Egg, Weber Performer Deluxe, Weber Smokey Joe Silver, Maverick 732, DigiQ, and too much other stuff to mention.

                I use chicken stock instead of beef, but admittedly neither from scratch, which is why I use chicken stock instead of beef; you can buy a pretty decent chicken stock, but commercial beef stock is not that good. The best beef stock is to use Better Than Bullion (demiglace) and water. Other than making your own, of course.


                • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                  Club Member
                  • Jun 2018
                  • 601
                  • Eastern NC
                  • 2018 MAK 2 Star
                    Charbroil Big Easy SRG

                  My second favorite soup! Also a great substitute for au jus for a french dip sammy


                  • Dewesq55
                    Founding Member
                    • Jul 2014
                    • 1962
                    • The Poconos, NEPA
                    • Smoker:
                      Landmann Smoke Master Series Heavy Duty Barrel Smoker (COS) - With mods including 2 level rack system with pull-out grates
                      Masterbuilt 40.2" 1200W Electric Smoker
                      Masterbuilt ThermoTemp XL 40" Vertical Propane Smoker

                      Gas Grill:
                      BBQPro (cheap big box store model) Stainless steel 4 burnerswith aftermarket rotisserie.

                      Charcoal Grill:
                      Weber Smokey Joe Charcoal Grill 14"

                      Fireboard 2 with Drive cable and 20 CFM fan and Competition Probe Package
                      Fireboard 1st Generation
                      ThermoWorks Mini Instant Read
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                      2 Maverick 733
                      ThermoWorks IR-GUN-S Industrial Infrared Thermometer
                      ThermoWorks ThermaPen Mk4 x 2
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                      Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator - 1st generation
                      Anova Sous Vide Immersion Circulator - wifi/bluetooth connected

                      Favorite Beer:
                      Anything to the dark side and malty rather than hoppy. Currently liking Yuengling Porter and Newcastle Brown Ale. In a bar or pub I will often default to Guiness

                      Favorite Spirit:
                      Bourbon - Eagle Rare for "every day"; Angel's Envy for special occasions, Basil Hayden's, Larceny

                      Favorite Wine:
                      Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Super Tuscan Sangiovese (Including Chianti Classico Riserva) Brunello di Montalcino

                      Favorite Meat(s):
                      Pork - especially the darker meat. I love spare ribs and anything made from shoulder/butt meat
                      Chicken - Mainly the dark meat and wings
                      Beef Ribeye steak

                      Favorite Cuisine to Cook:
                      Can't list just one: Indian, Chinese, Thai, West Indian/Carribean, Hispanic/Latin American, Ethiopian, Italian, BBQ

                      Favorite Cuisine to Eat:
                      Indian, followed closely by BBQ.

                      Disqus ID:
                      David E. Waterbury

                    These are from my italian meat sauce on Sunday, but the same technique was used - just onions, olive oil and very low heat.

                    Click image for larger version

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                    • ssandy_561
                      Charter Member
                      • Apr 2015
                      • 1250
                      • Central OHIO

                      Not quite "French Onion" but made the exact same way.

                      My Aunt makes 5 Onion Soup.

                      My Aunt would make it with a Yellow Onion, Red Onion, Sweet Onion, Leeks and Shallots.

                      She would use the beef stock, thyme, bay leaves and everything else. She would toast the crouton but the only two cheeses she would use were Provolone and Parmesan. She would also sprinkle chives on top after she would take it out of the oven.

                      The red onion would add some "sharpness" to the soup that's usually not there with French Onion Soup.


                      • Henrik
                        Founding Member - Moderator Emeritus
                        • Jul 2014
                        • 4339
                        • Stockholm, Sweden

                        Thanks for posting. I'm a big fan, and make this often. I do the same as you. Giving onions enough time is key. I also add some allspice (whole corns) to the soup, and I use chicken stock instead of beef stock, but except for that it's the same. This is an incredibly tasty soup.




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