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Onion Soup: Chicken or Beef Stock?


Waitman
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It occurred to me that nothing goes better with 14 inches of snow than a gooey crock of onion soup, and I'm thinking of cooking some up. All due respect to Centrale, Parc Cafe and so on, mine's better.

But lately, perhaps contemporaneously with acquiring Bouchon by well-known anal retentive Thomas Keller and starting to cook onions for two-to-four weeks over low heat before adding them to the stock, I've changed from beef stock to chicken. In some circles, this is like changing from the Sox to the Yankees or Obama to Palin. But, with the onions so rich served in a rich beef stock, the thing kind of loses nuance for me. It's like eating onion ice cream or something.

So, just for fun, I wondered if anybody had any passionate opinions on the subject or good reasons to bring me back into the fold.

Any thoughts?

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I just think there's more of a natural affinity between beef and onions. Chicken stock is fine, and I'm sure, given that you're cooking it, it'd be plenty tasty, but in this case I must ask myself WWJD? Jacque (Pepin) would go beef all the way.

We always ask ourselves WWTD, and deviating from Keller's gospel has been a traumatic experience.

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Depends on mood; I like both.

FTR, WTKD is what Mario Batali and lots of Italians do, i.e., those who argue vehemently that their culture led the French to the pleasures of warming bowls of onion soup.

Italians use red onions instead of yellow or sweet.

Their stock, though, is not necessarily pure chicken since it could be an all-purpose poultry (including your accursed bird, the turkey, whose wings I think punch up the flavor of stock in winter); Lynne Rossetto Kasper's masterwork includes a formula from Emilia-Romagna that is practical in using up scraps of whatever is around, thus mixing chicken (dominant flavor) with a little beef. I've made her recipe (The Splendid Table) for brodo that complements homemade pasta and bet it would be good for onion soup, too.

ETA: Of course, capon is traditional at Christmas time in both France and Italy and the richer flavor is something that the mixed-meat soup base is supposed to evoke.

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It occurred to me that nothing goes better with 14 inches of snow than a gooey crock of onion soup, and I'm thinking of cooking some up. All due respect to Centrale, Parc Cafe and so on, mine's better.

But lately, perhaps contemporaneously with acquiring Bouchon by well-known anal retentive Thomas Keller and starting to cook onions for two-to-four weeks over low heat before adding them to the stock, I've changed from beef stock to chicken. In some circles, this is like changing from the Sox to the Yankees or Obama to Palin. But, with the onions so rich served in a rich beef stock, the thing kind of loses nuance for me. It's like eating onion ice cream or something.

So, just for fun, I wondered if anybody had any passionate opinions on the subject or good reasons to bring me back into the fold.

Any thoughts?

White Veal

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I just think there's more of a natural affinity between beef and onions. Chicken stock is fine, and I'm sure, given that you're cooking it, it'd be plenty tasty, but in this case I must ask myself WWJD? Jacque (Pepin) would go beef all the way.

I've watched him make onion soup on the TV tubes, and he used chicken stock. Said that the point of it all was the onions and not the stock.
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I've watched him make onion soup on the TV tubes, and he used chicken stock. Said that the point of it all was the onions and not the stock.

I tend to agree. Particularly if you are going to cook the onions for 5 freaking hours. I have a gallina india (I think it means nasty stewing hen) that I like to use for a more chickeney stock sitting in my fridge that I was planning on using but I also have some really reach and gelatinous beef stock that I might use to enrich it just a tad.

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I've watched him make onion soup on the TV tubes, and he used chicken stock. Said that the point of it all was the onions and not the stock.

Jacques's recipe, chicken stock and all, may be found here. Putting the soup through a food mill seems a little much to me.

Incidentally, while onion soup gratinéed with gruyère is a lovely thing, overloading it with cheese can rather spoil it, which they did at Café du Parc on my last visit a couple of weeks ago. The soup underneath was still very good, and they use chicken stock.

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It occurred to me that nothing goes better with 14 inches of snow than a gooey crock of onion soup, and I'm thinking of cooking some up. All due respect to Centrale, Parc Cafe and so on, mine's better.

But lately, perhaps contemporaneously with acquiring Bouchon by well-known anal retentive Thomas Keller and starting to cook onions for two-to-four weeks over low heat before adding them to the stock, I've changed from beef stock to chicken. In some circles, this is like changing from the Sox to the Yankees or Obama to Palin. But, with the onions so rich served in a rich beef stock, the thing kind of loses nuance for me. It's like eating onion ice cream or something.

So, just for fun, I wondered if anybody had any passionate opinions on the subject or good reasons to bring me back into the fold.

Any thoughts?

I made some recently with mushroom stock. That was quite good.

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