June 7, 2012

French Onion Soup Risotto

End of an era.  That's what this is, y'all.

You may know this, but for the past 2 years I've served as the Director of a math-centered after-school program for elementary school children.  This job was pretty much a dream--I loved it.  Notice I'm talking in past tense?  Yeah!  Because today was my last day there.  Next year I have to grow up and become a big girl teacher in a real live classroom and actually use all these skills I've accumulated.  My kids were sad, I was sad, I brought cookies because that's how I deal with sad.  They weren't so sad after that.  Probably the sugar rush.

I always knew this was a two-year gig.  I'm currently serving as an AmeriCorps member and those things are limited to one-year stints, of which I did two.  And I'm super excited about moving on to new things and continuing what will hopefully be a long career in education.  But I love my job!  I love everything about it--I love who I work for and with, I love the kids I teach, I love having an endless string of hilarious stories because kids are awesome.  I know that if this didn't have an expiration date, I'd totally stay.  But it does, and this is good, because it forces me to expand my horizons.

So basically I know this is good, and I know that this is not good.

When things are feeling unsettled, I like to dwell on things that are absolutely settled.  Things that work every single time.  Things that you can change and change and change, and they stay exactly the same.  Things like risotto.  Regardless of it's flavorings, risotto is always the same.  Rice, stock, stir.  Risotto for me is my comfort food, and when it tastes exactly like french onion soup, but carb-y, I'm doubly comforted.

Let's get comfortable.

Set up your station: big, heavy pot, skillet with olive oil, beef stock simmering on a back burner.  The tea kettle is unnecessary, that's just where that lives.

This recipe is one of those happy coincidences in my kitchen in which everything comes out perfectly timed.  Risotto takes about as long as caramelized onions do.  It's like it was meant to be!

Start caramelizing those onions.  Onions, salt, and pepper go into the skillet over medium heat until soft.  Then the heat is dropped way down and they cook until they are sweet and sticky and caramelized.

Next door olive oil is added to the big heavy pot with some garlic.  Let that cook for about a minute until the garlic is fragrant.

Next add the Arborio rice and stir for about 30 seconds until it becomes transparent and slightly toasted.  Next add some red wine and stir until absorbed.  Usually with risotto I'd use white wine, but this was beefy, french onion soup so red wine fits.

Then do your risotto thing.  Add stock in 1/2 cup intervals until the rice is completely cooked and is creamy and delicious.  If you need more instructions, check here, here, and here.

By this time, the onions are caramelized.  See?

Add those to the risotto and turn off the heat.

Mix that all up and then add some grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh thyme.

And here's where it's going to get crazy.  This is French onion soup risotto, remember?  Put the risotto in an oven-proof crock and top it with freshly grated Gruyere cheese.  We're making carb soup!  That sounds absolutely terrible, and I apologize because this isn't terrible.  It's awesome.  Sorry.

Crank up your broiler and put it in the oven, watching very very closely, until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

That, my friends, is French onion soup Risotto!  I've been thinking about this for months and was kind of afraid to do it because I'll admit, it sounds kind of weird.  And it is.  But only because it tastes exactly like the inspiration except that it's risotto.

It's delicious.  It's comforting and rich without actually being rich.  I think I'm on to something here, combining risotto with other classic flavors, but I also might just be the type of person that will eat anything that involves cheese and carbs.  Will you try this and let me know what you think?  I need to know.

And as for the other stuff, I know it will be fine.  I'm really excited about my next moves and am really proud of the work I've done these past two years.  Change is weird and hard but also really invigorating and cleansing.  So here's to the next big thing, be it a job, a city, or just a weird, dreamed-up dish you read about on some blog.

Here's the recipe!

French Onion Soup Risotto


  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, sliced thin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese (per serving)
  1. Heat stock in a sauce pan over medium heat until simmering.  Reduce heat to low to keep at a simmer.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Add onions and cook for 4 minutes, until just beginning to soften.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 40 minutes, until they are caramelized.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add rice and cook for 30 seconds until transparent and slightly toasted, about 1 minute.  Add wine and stir until absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Next add 1/2 cup stock.  Stir often, if not constantly, until it is completely absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pot when a spoon is dragged across.  Repeat by adding more stock and continue until the risotto is completely cooked and creamy.  This should take at least 35-40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in caramelized onions, Parmesan cheese, and thyme.  Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.  
  6. Turn on broiler and add risotto to an oven-safe crock and top with Gruyere cheese.  Place crock in the oven and cook until cheese is melted and slightly golden brown.  Watch carefully so as not to burn.


  1. This is what your dad wants for his BIRTHDAY dinner tonight! xoxo