FOS – When Onions Become the Foundation of a Healthy Relationship

When I was in high school, I loved comedian Paul Reiser’s book, Couplehood. There was a chapter in the book that discussed going out for coffee. It was a pretty elaborate chapter and I wish I still had my copy of the book to accurately quote what he was talking about, which was essentially there isn’t anything beyond coffee that people could meet up for without it sounding odd or complicated. By going out for coffee, the name coincides with the event, you know what you will do when you get there. I want to show Mr. Reiser how this has evolved and you can in fact get together for more than a coffee date and less than a full meal – the answer lies in soup. French Onion Soup, specifically. Or, how I like to refer to it and hope it takes over the world, FOS.

This very food has formed the foundation of one of my friendships, the man whom I also commissioned for the graphics of this blog and one of my Starbucks partners, Mr. Eric Shine. We didn’t hit it off when we initially met and he was just a customer in my store, it was upon interviewing him and offering him a job that everything fell into place. Now Eric and I are in very different places in our lives, not just because of our 14+ year age difference. I am practically mid-career and focused on settling down and finding someone to share my life with. Eric’s life, in a way, is just beginning – he’s finishing up high school and starting college in the fall. Over time, we discovered we had quite a bit in common, such as our sharp wits, love of technology, entrepreneurial spirits, and a love of food. All of these commonalities were slowly discovered bowl after bowl of French Onion Soup…and we didn’t have to be hanging out to bond over the soup. It got to the point that we would just inform each other when one party was eating said soup somewhere, and the rest of the conversations follow. As Eric would say, when we met, onions cried…

Eric has an un-quenching thirst for the combination of savory broth, sweet caramelized onions, French bread, and gooey melted cheese. It is just one of those dishes that he endlessly craves. Up until about three months ago I had never even attempted to make it at home, it had never crossed my mind, but over time and knowing Eric, I was up to the culinary challenge.

Since my first attempt, I feel I have perfected my recipe, though I will continue to meet for FOS.

It all starts with an onion

Slice about 5 - 6 large onions to begin...

Melt about a stick of butter in a large stock pot, preferably one with a heavy bottom. Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

After about half an hour of stirring around the onions, they will start to brown and caramelize. Once they are brown, soft, and syrupy, you can add your seasonings.

For seasonings, I went with thyme, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and some parsley

Add about two quarts of beef stock, and allow to simmer for an least an hour. Soup can be served immediately, or cooled to be reheated and served later.

When you're ready to oven-safe soup bowls, ladle in some hot soup.

Add your French bread...I had rubbed a bit of garlic on the bread and toasted it first.

Add your cheese. Gruyere, Gouda, and Swiss all work well. Here I have Gouda. Place the bowl under your broiler. I have mine on a sheet pan to make it easier to place in and take out of the oven.

In 3 - 5 minutes, you have your own French bistro fare, worthy of the finest of friendships.