This is a reanimation of the Vicaribus blog as lived by Miro Kazakoff and Ehren Foss in 2004 and 2005.
The photos may be spotty.
Campfire French Onion Soup
Posted by Miro recipes
Iíve always thought all French cooking, particularly bistro fare, required tremendous precision and skill. I found this recipe to be surprisingly easy (if time consuming, to caramelize the onions) and forgiving of the fact that I had to stop and start it several times.
I began cooking under the 405 overpass in Portland.
1) I cut up three large onions into roughly ľ inch thick slices. Some I cut into half moons and some into quarter moons. The half moons looked to big, but when they reduced down it was fine. I find chopping very Zen.
2) I pulled out my thick non-stick sauce pot. Itís a little small for soup making, but I think a non-stick pot is crucial to this recipie
3) Stuffed the onions into the pot, liberally sprinkling salt as I went to help pull out the moisture. I had to shove the lid down to get it all to fit.
4) Cooked on high for a long time. Hereís the part I was nervous about, but turned out to be fine. This process cooks out most of the water and sulfides in the onions (sulfides give onions their bite and chef blinding qualities). As the water reduces, most of whatís left is sugar. Under heat, sugar breaks down into hundreds of different compounds. The process is called caramelization and we know it by the brown color sugar takes on when it turns to caramel. In making candy itís easy to burn the caramel. In making French Onion Soup, burning some of the onions doesnít really hurt things. The onions at the very bottom on this pot were plenty burnt when the whole mixture was turning lightly brown. Turned out not to be a problem. I could have even waited till the whole thing was browner.
5) Dumped about half a bottle of the cheapest Riesling I could find at the WinnCo over the onions. I turned the heat up on high and scrapped all the burnt onion parts off the bottom of the pot. This turned the mixture nicely brown. The whole thing is supposed to reduce to a syrupy quality, but we had to hit the road to meet up with Sean & Rana so I stowed the pot in the sink
6) Once weíre at camp, I reduce the wine and onions to syrup. I throw in a can off beef stock, a cup of some chicken stock I made from the smoked chicken at Brennaís house, and a cup of water since the chicken stock is so thick, itís jelly at room temperature.
7) The whole thing is pretty tasty but too sweet. I hit it with about a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar. Sherry vinegar would have been better, but vinegar makes me nervous in general. I probably should have put in more too.
8) For seasoning I simmer the whole thing with a Bay leaf and some dried parley. Theyíre about the only French herbs I have on hand. I found some thyme later, but decided against it.
9) Traditionally, French Onion Soup is served with toasted bread and a layer of melted cheese in those silly ceramic bowls that you only see used to serve French Onion Soup. The bus doesnít carry ceramic bowls, French cheese or even nice bread. So I fired up the oven and toasted a couple of hamburger buns. I was planning to melt some of our Monterey Jack in the oven on top of the toasted buns and just drop them in the soup, buttoasting the buns finished off the propane supplies.
10) There was an abortive attempt to get a fire going, but the Pacific Northwestís near continual rainfall extinguished Ehrenís attempts (despite the liberal use of lighter fluid). Sean suggested broiling the cheese by laying foil over the cheese and buns and putting hot coals from the fire on top (apparently, thatís the secret to campfire pizza).
11) I end up warming the soup inside the bus with Seanís campfire stove. It gets ladled into the bowls over the hamburger buns and cheese. The heat was more than enough to melt the cheese.
Assessment: Very tasty, surprisingly easy, use more acid (i.e. like vinegar) next time.