Rich, silky, soul-stimulating French onion soup is finally in season.

Braise of Heaven

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Three Bites Issue: November 2015
Group Free

Rich, silky, soul-stimulating French onion soup is finally in season.

Zinc Bistro
15034 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-603-0922, zincbistroaz.com
Do onion soup right and you have a pièce de resistance. Do it wrong and you’ve got soggy, salty chaos. What’s the secret? Most chefs say the key lies in caramelizing the onions to a deep golden brown. At Zinc Bistro, Chef de Cuisine Hussein Martin makes a steaming crock of onion soup gratinée (pictured, $14) laden with caramelized jumbo white onions in a house-made half-chicken, half-veal stock broth laced with sherry and brandy for both acidity and sweetness. Cooked low and slow, the soup is finished with a dash of Worcestershire and soy to bring out the essential caramelized element. Martin tops it with a toasted French baguette crouton covered with nutty Gruyère cheese, and melts it under the broiler until the cheese oozes around the tureen.  

Merci French Café & Patisserie
7620 E. Indian School Rd., Scottsdale, 480-947-2777, mercifrenchcafe.com
Chef-owner Duc Liao says he prepares his onion soup au gratin ($8.50) by following the traditional French preparation of caramelizing the onions in oil and mixing them with a bouillon made from chicken and beef bones, pepper, sage, French herbs and a splash of white wine. “Everything is simple and classic,” Liao says. His version of the French favorite is a little lighter, with subtle, herbaceous notes. To serve, Liao tops the aromatic soup with bread made in-house using organic, non-GMO flour, then covers the bowl with Gruyère and Swiss cheeses, torched into a blistered, molten golden crown.  

Coup Des Tartes French Bistro
1725 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, 602-212-1082, nicetartes.com
Coup Des Tartes’ French onion soup ($9) veers a little from the traditional, says owner Ron Pacioni. “We like to take a French preparation and twist it a little bit,” he says. Executive Chef Jose Hernandez uses only chicken for his stock and, along with the customary ingredients, adds the juice of two lemons, fresh cilantro and a dash of red pepper flakes for a little kick. Hernandez tops the rich and dense onion soup with French baguette toast points slathered with melted, bubbling Gruyère cheese. Bon appétit!