French Onion Soup Dumplings
There’s a restaurant on the Lower East Side called Stanton Social, which is designed around a menu containing nothing but small tasting dishes meant to be shared with everyone at your table. Dave and I went there not too long ago at my honorary aunt’s recommendation, and everything we tried was excellent.
I fell utterly in love with their french onion soup dumplings. Dave abhors cheese, but even he enjoyed them once I dissected the cheese off of one for him to try. I went home and immediately started to work on replicating that dish.
French Onion Soup Dumplings
6 large (and I do mean large) red onions, peeled, quartered, and sliced into thin strips
1/4 tsp sugar
2 cloves roasted garlic, minced (or squished)
8 C beef stock
3/4 C dry white wine (I have used red wine instead, for a slightly different but equally delicious variation)
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dry thyme
Salt and pepper
Grated Swiss Gruyere cheese
The essence of a good french onion soup is the stock. Don’t settle for canned stock; make it yourself. I based my stock recipe on this veal stock recipe by The Domestic Goddess. My changes simply involve using beef shank bones or oxtail instead of veal bones, serrano pepper instead of red hot pepper, and closer to 8 or 10 black peppercorns.
So, once you’ve made or defrosted your beef stock, it’s time to get going.
In a large soup pot, caramelize the onions in olive oil at medium high heat. Add the sugar once they’ve started to go transparent to help with the process. It takes a long time to properly caramelize onions, at least half an hour or so until they’re thoroughly browned but not burned. Once they reach that point, add the garlic and saute briefly before adding the stock, wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Lower the heat, cover partially, and simmer until the flavors are thoroughly blended, at least another half hour or so. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drain the onions from the soup, reserving the broth. Put a small amount of broth in a small bowl convenient to your working area. Fill your gyoza wrappers one at a time. (You can substitute wonton wrappers, but the square (rather than round) shape wasn’t amenable to my goal state.) Place 1/2 tsp or so of mostly onions and however much broth clings to them in the center of each. Run a wet finger along the edges of each gyoza wrapper, then gather them together to form a small ball with the edges scrunched together in the top center. Set each aside and continue to fill and close the rest in the same manner.
Version 2.0: As Rose suggests, it actually works even better to freeze the soup into a slush, then fill the dumplings with the thick slush. This lets you get more broth into the dumplings. Alternatively, make a very gelled stock (use lots of chicken feet!), and let the soup cool and gel, then cut the gelled soup into cubes.
Version 3.0: If your stock does not gel solid in the fridge, add in gelatin and follow the instructions on the box as though you were making jello. Then you can very easily fill the dumpling wrappers with spoonfuls or cubes of gelled stock, which will melt back into liquid when hot. This is absolutely the right way to do this – ignore all previous versions of my recipe!
Place the dumplings in a steamer and steam over gently boiling water for about 15 minutes or until done. Place each dumpling in one of the depressions of the escargot dish, and sprinkle the top with a nice, thick layer of gruyere. Place the dish under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly, which should take only a few minutes.
I made my croutons by cutting a slightly stale end of baguette into small cubes, then toasting them under the broiler, flipping them in order to brown all sides.
Version 2.0: I fry my croutons in a pan instead of broiling them nowadays, because I find it lets me get them more evenly browned. I fry them in a bit of olive oil or butter, and sprinkle on black pepper, salt, and the tiniest bit of truffle salt.
Skewer one crouton on each toothpick and then skewer each dumpling with a toothpick so prepared.
Serve the leftover broth with extra cheese to your younger brother, who loves french onion soup broth but always ends up throwing away most of the onions, or put it in your fridge to use as a base for stew later.
Eat while the cheese is still molten. Be careful, the dumplings are quite hot.