Friday, January 28, 2011

The great soup debate part 2

The Great Broth - Cream Soup Debates part 2

We left off yesterday with Dr. Such's challenge at Cleveland's famous "Château des Huit Chats Fous"

Chef LaVache was tasked to create a stock based soup while Chef Besciamella was to make a cream soup.  The chef that made the best soup would be made head chef of the restaurant.

Chef LaVache decided that he would make a French Onion Soup.  Quickly he sent his sous chefs out to gather his ingredients as he prepped his kitchen.

From the butcher, he purchased 4 pounds of ox tails, 4 pounds of English cut short ribs,  and 4 pounds of various soup bones

From the cheese shop, he purchased Gruyère cheese.
From the dairy, he purchased several pounds of butter.
From the wine shop, he purchased a bottle of champagne and a bottle of sherry

From the baker, he purchased several loaves of bread
Finally from the produce man, he purchased onions, celery, parsnips, and herbs.

"Gentlemen, tonight we will prepare the finest soup the city of Cleveland has ever seen!  Pierre!  Take the large dutch oven and coat the inside with oil.  Chop two of the onions, some celery, carrots, and parsnips. place them in the dutch oven with the ox tails and short ribs and let them roast for two hours.  Do not let them burn Pierre, or it will be back to the bayou for you.  Guy, Rene, come with me."

While Pierre was busy tending to the beef, Chef LaVache set Rene to work.  "Rene!  Your job will be to make the caramelized onions.  Take trick is to cook the onions very slowly.  Once they begin to get soft and translucent, add a little sherry.  Lower the heat if needed and do not let the onions burn.  If we fail at this soup, you will be back to peddling sauerkraut in the Catskills."

"Guy!  You will be responsible for final assembly of the tureens.  You will make the Croutons and float them on the soup.  No creativity this time and no screw ups!  I have already bought your passage back to France... the question is do you go back in steerage or in a steamer trunk!"

With those final words, Chef LaVache headed back to his office.

Pierre, Rene, and Guy went to the back of the kitchen and sat down to talk.

"What are we going to do?  If we fail, we're all done for."

"I don't think it's going to matter, so let's do this right.  Let's do this the way that tastes best."

"Absolutely,  first, lose the parsnip.  Next, Since we're using champagne already, let's lose the sherry."

"But use some of the beef fat in the onions"


"Together, we will make a wonderful soup!"

Beef Stock


  • 4 pounds ox tails
  • 4 pounds English short ribs
  • 4 pounds beef soup bones
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 stalks celery, including some leaves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 cup champagne
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice onion. Chop scrubbed celery, carrots, and parsnip into 1-inch chunks. In a large dutch oven, place soup bones, short ribs, ox tails, onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, and salt. Bake, uncovered, about 2 hours or until the bones are well browned, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove dutch oven from oven to stove.  Place the browned bones and vegetable from dutch oven to heat proof container.  Over medium heat, deglaze pan with one cup of champagne.  Return all items back to dutch oven.  Add peppercors, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, and garlic to dutch oven.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 hours.
  3. If liquid reduces to below 8 cups, add additional water.
  4. Strain stock. Discard meat, vegetables, and seasonings.  Drain off fat and reserve
  5. To clarify stock for clear soup: In order to remove solid flecks that are too small to be strained out with cheesecloth, combine 1/4 cup cold water, 1 egg white, and 1 crushed eggshell. Add to strained stock. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Strain again through a sieve lined with cheesecloth.
Caramelized Onions


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Reserved Beef fat
  • 5 pounds large sweet onions (Vidalia onions are ideal for sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon Sea salt
  • 2 cups champagne
  • 1 cup beef stock

  1. Warm a large skillet on stove over medium-low heat.  Melt butter and add a teaspoon of beef fat.
  2. Halved and cut onions pole to pole into 1/4 inch thick slices
  3. Add onions to skillet.  Stir frequently until onions become soft and translucent.
  4. Add a little champagne.  Allow the liquid to cook off while continuing to saute onions.
  5. When all liquid has evaporated, add a little beef stock and repeat the process.
  6. Alternate between the two liquids for about an hour or until the onions have achieved a rich brown color.  Lower the heat if needed and do not let the onions burn.

Cheese Croutons

  • 1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  1. Slice baguette into 3/4 inch slices
  2. Arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and rub garlic over top.  Sprinkle cheese over bread and return to oven for additional 5 minutes.

The Final Assembly

  • Beef Stock
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Cheese Croutons
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • Provolone Cheese, sliced

  1. Return dutch oven to stove over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, bay leaf, and beef stock to oven and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. 
  5. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. 
  6. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 cheese croutons (do not overlap slices) and cover with provolone cheese.
  7. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Tomorrow, Chef Besciamella, strikes back with his cream soup. SO STAY TUNED!!!

Until tomorrow, I wish you all Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce.

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