Courtesy Aaron Bludorn, chef and co-owner, Bludorn Restaurant, Houston
Bludorn’s new eponymous restaurant follows years of work with French Chef Daniel Boulud. His French onion soup has the unexpected addition of soy sauce and Sherry vinegar. At the restaurant, he adds bone marrow between the bread and cheese, which is optional at home. He also simmers beef shanks in beef stock for eight hours to make an extra-beefy soup base, but any flavorful beef stock will do.
- ½ bunch fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2½ pounds Vidalia onions (or substitute Walla Walla), peeled and sliced thin
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon Cognac or other brandy
- 10 cups homemade beef stock
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
- 4–6½-inch-thick slices sourdough toast, cut to diameter of serving bowls
- 1 marrow bone, halved lengthwise (optional)
- 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, sliced thin
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ cup minced chives
Place thyme, peppercorns, fennel seeds, star anise and bay leaf on square of cheesecloth. Gather corners of cloth together to make a small sachet and tie securely.
Add butter and onions to stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until deep brown, about 45 minutes (reduce heat if onions start to burn). Add wine and Cognac, and cook, scraping any bits from bottom of pan, until wine reduces by half. Add stock and sachet, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, for 1 hour.
Add soy sauce, vinegar and salt, to taste, if necessary. Keep warm until ready to serve, then divide among 4–6 ovenproof soup bowls or ramekins.
To serve: Heat broiler. If using, spread bone marrow atop sourdough toast slices. Place 1 sourdough toast atop each bowl. Cover with Gruyere and Parmesan. Place on rimmed baking sheet and transfer to oven. Broil until cheese is bubbling, about 5 minutes. Garnish with chives. Serves 4–6.
“The richness of the marrow, savoriness of the stock, sweetness of the onions and the creamy, salty flavor of the cheese draws me to a wine that plays on both reductive and oxidative flavor profiles,” says Jack Mason, MS, wine consultant for Bludor. “One of the great producers of the Jura, Tissot’s Chardonnay pairs not only with these flavors but also has the texture and acidity to stand up to the richness of the marrow and cheese.”
Red wine pairs well with the intense beefiness of this soup, and its tannins soften the fat of the cheese and marrow. Sangiovese has the added bonus of high acidity to cut richness. Rosso di Montalcino is made from 100% Sangiovese, and this vibrant expression has undertones of dried herbs that echo the aromas from the spice sachet.