One of my favorite things in life is onion soup. You know that bubbling, salty, delicious, overly cheesy bowl of goodness you can get in any diner-style restaurant. Yes, that onion soup. In the past few years I’ve found myself making it more frequently at home. And, like most things in life, it’s just better at home.
And, while you can make a pretty good bowl of onion soup with some store bought stock, the one major game changer I found was making the stock at home takes it to another level. The whole thing relies on good stock, be it chicken or beef, or veg if you like. For this instance we’ll be dealing in the beef arena, going classic. Think of this as a two part post, for now we deal with the stock, next up will be the onion soup.
If you’ve ever made your own stock you know how it’s completely different than that watered down stuff you get from a box. It’s thick, will most certainly set up from all the gelatin when refrigerated and is completely full of flavor. And, that gelatin is what sets apart a homemade stock and that shelf-stable, store-bought stuff. It totally changes the mouthfeel, kinda coats your tongue and makes you feel like you’re actually eating something, not just slurping up some hot water. It’s what makes a stock good. Ever had tonkotsu ramen? Well then you know what I mean.
So, to start you’ll need bones. We seem to have an excess of frozen beef marrow bones, which I think were originally meant for Dolly, our dog… but for now I’m using them for the stock. I’m also using some ground beef patties, also from the freezer. They’ll help up the meatiness of the stock. You’ll want to brown the bones, meat and veg that will eventually make the stock. Think of the final product like a Maillard tea. You’re gonna brown everything, get it nice and flavorful, then dissolve all the good stuff in a bunch of water.
And, that gelatin is what sets apart a homemade stock and that shelf-stable, store-bought stuff. It totally changes the mouthfeel, kinda coats your tongue and makes you feel like you’re actually eating something, not just slurping up some hot water. It’s what makes a stock good.
Think of this whole recipe as more of a method. You can do the same process with just about any meat you want. Think chicken, duck, turkey, lamb, pork, fish and so on. You want to get the bones/shells roasted, then pressure cook with some aromatics, strain it all up and then use it. If you’re doing this with fish or shrimp you’ll only need to pressure cook for about 20 mins, no need for 2+ hours.
...we'll get to the onion soup soon
Exact amounts don’t matter too much here. I would just recommend filling your largest pot and making a good amount at one time. You can always freeze any extra.
- Beef Bones
- 1/4 lb ground beef, or beef trimmings (totally optional, but highly recommended)
- 1 Large carrot
- 1 Stalk celery
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 shallots, an onion or a leek
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- A few springs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 5ish peppercorns
Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C.
You want to get your bones roasting along with the carrot, celery, shallots, garlic and ground beef for about 20 – 25mins. You want it roasted and dark brown, but not burnt. Just keep an eye on it and toss things around about halfway through if needed.
Next up, place all those roasted goodies is a pressure cooker and cover with water. Be sure to scrape off any stuck on bits from the roasting tray. That stuff it delish and exactly what you want in your stock. Add in a teaspoon of tomato paste, a few peppercorns, a few sprigs of thyme and 2 bay leaves or any other herbs you want.
Cook on low pressure for 2+ hours. You can also do this without a pressure cooker, you just want it to barely simmer for 5-6 hours.
Once your stock is cooked you want to strain out all the bones and bits and then I like to add it to jars, let it cool to room temp and then place it in the fridge. This way the fat will solidify at the top and you can easily remove it, but don’t throw it away, it’s great to cook with. It’ll make some mean roasted potatoes.
That’s it. Now we’re ready to start making that soup…