For days after eating this dish, your memory will not fade. In minute detail, you’ll remember everything: the sweetness of the onion; rich beef stock; notes of rosemary and thyme in the vase; Tender short rib cuts that add savory flavor: a velvety mantle of melted gruyère. This short onion soup recipe is about as perfect as it may taste.
Here at Acadiana Table, I love to tell personal stories about the culturally significant dishes that I love most. But sometimes — and this is one of those times — there’s not much story to tell. It’s just soup, but what an amazing soup.
In fact, naming this soup bowl doesn’t do it justice. It’s more in the league of braised beef and less of an onion soup if not for the soupy broth that defines the dish. French onion soup is what comes to mind first, and some might poke fun at this seemingly classic Parisian rendition of a Southern cooking blog. But once you peel the layers off, it’s just as homey, as deep-southern as the recipe can get. The beauty of this little recipe is that it takes a laid-back, casual approach to a classic, crunchy and crunchy.
In my experience, every good recipe starts with one main ingredient that becomes a catalyst for flavor discovery, but in this recipe, there are two—short ribs and onions. So here’s the deal: These short ribs are slow-cooked on the bone for eight hours—enough time for the collagen to break down and make them fall off the bone. And onions, well, they’re the sweetest of all, straight from Vidalia, Georgia.
This dish walks the line between shy and muscular. With every bite of Short Onion Soup, you search for the right word to describe it—beefy, sweet, rich, or velvety—nothing quite defines the essence of this wonderful dish, but who cares, it’s quite simply the best soup on the universe.
When you slip the spoon across the melted gruyère and scoop up the first bite of the tender beef and onions swimming in the dark gravy, you know this is going to be good. But after tasting the first spoonful of this short onion soup, you never dreamed it could redefine soup for you. That’s just fine.
Short onion soup
Recipe by: George Graham – AcadianaTable.com
- 8 (2 to 3 pounds) English short ribs, bone-in, with excess fat and sinew removed
- 2 liters of beef broth
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- A quarter cup of chopped parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
- Half a cup of unsalted butter
- 8 Vidalia onions, peeled and sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 packet of dried, unflavored gelatin
- 4 slices of French bread, cut into thick slices
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- The day before: Add the short ribs, beef broth, soy sauce, rosemary, parsley, and bay leaves to the ceramic bowl of the slow cooker on low. Cook 8 hours or overnight, until meat is tender. Discard the bones, bay leaves, and rosemary stalks. Check the meat and remove any excess fat. Divide the meat into small pieces. Strain the broth. Refrigerate the meat and broth. Once cool, remove any fatty covering from the top of the broth. Keep it inside the three until you use it.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the onions and sauté until softened, but not browned. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the meat and meat broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat until it softens.
- To hydrate the gelatin, add the powder to a small bowl filled with a cup of cold water and allow it to bloom. Then add to the hot liquid in the saucepan and continue to simmer on the stovetop until the onions are completely softened, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In 4 individual bowls, intended for use in the oven, fill with soup. Put a round baguette on top of each and a layer of grated cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake until soup is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Short ribs tend to be fatty (remember, fat neutralizes flavour), so be sure to cool the broth and remove any remaining fat covering before adding the broth to the soup. Vidalia onions bring an amazing level of sweetness, so look for them or the Texas Sweet variety. A packet of unflavored gelatin is a neat trick I use when I don’t have a super gelatinous bone broth on hand; It gives the same mouth feel without any added aftertaste. Gruyère is a classic in this dish for good reason: It has a rich flavor and creamy texture when melted; Look for a Swiss brand that is at least 6 months old. This is not a Cajun seasoning or hot sauce dish. The subtle sweetness and savory flavors want to shine through. This soup can be made up to two days in advance of serving; It just gets better.
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