I’m all for fast and easy meals, especially during the week when time is so precious but there are just some dishes that take time and are so worth it. French onion soup and risotto are two of those dishes. Neither of them are particularly difficult to make but they can’t be rushed. French onion soup needs time to lets the flavours slowly develop and risotto needs a little patience to get to that perfect tenderness (wether you are making traditional or barley risotto). So if are in a rush this is not the dish to make. However, if you have a little time and want an incredibly creamy and hearty dish look no further.
French Onion Barley Risotto
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 1 white or sweet onion – sliced thinly and then cut in half
- 1/2 cup of wine (red or white but preferably on the dry side)
- 4 to 5 cups of beef stock (use vegetable stock if you prefer a vegetarian dish)
- 1 cup of barley (pear or pot)
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme or 2 fresh sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups of swiss or gruyere cheese, finely grated
- 1 loaf of crusty bread (optional)
- Olive oil for toasting the bread
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large heavy pot.
Add the onions and cook until the onions are very tender and starting to turn brown. Stir often. Don’t rush this. It should take at least 20-30 minutes for the onions to cook. Once they are starting to turn brown turn the stove up to medium high heat and stirring often, cook until the onions are all a nice golden brown.
Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly until the wine is cooked off – about 2 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the stock and bring to a boil.
Add the barley and stir well. Stir in the thyme and add the bay leaf. Reduce heat to low and cover.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the stock has been absorbed. Add an additional 1/2 cup of stock at a time and stir and simmer until the barley is tender. If you run out of stock you can finish with water. This should take around 40 minutes.
While the barley is cooking turn your oven to 350 degrees, cut the bread into pieces small enough to fit on top of the bowls you will be serving the risotto in. Drizzle with olive oil, place on a baking sheet and cook until toasted. This step is optional but I recommend it if you want a more authentic french onion soup experience.
Once the barley is tender and the stock is absorbed stir in one cup of the grated cheese. Gently mix until the cheese is melted and the mixture is creamy.
Turn the oven to broil.
Divide the risotto into french onion bowl or any small oven proof dishes. Add one piece of toasted bread to each dish and cover generously with cheese.
Broil until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.
Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and serve.