It doesn’t take hours to make an intense, dark and rich French onion soup – The Denver Post

Few soups get people as misty-eyed as French onion.

Sure, I count myself among the many who cry while slicing pounds and pounds of onions. (I hate to think how many people walked by the fishbowl window of The Washington Post Food Lab and wondered what was wrong with the woman weeping as if it was the opening few minutes of “Up.”) Despite the waterworks, it’s hard to resist the result: a rich, fragrant, deeply colored pot of comfort. The best renditions are so beautiful, they might bring a tear to your eye — at least metaphorically.

That’s the kind of recipe I’m presenting you with today. Even better, this Fast French Onion Soup from kitchen wizard and Serious Eats chief culinary adviser J. Kenji López-Alt is speedier than a traditional preparation, and it doesn’t sacrifice flavor in the interest of time. His method, which I culled from his impressive 2015 cookbook, “The Food Lab,” uses sugar, baking powder and increased heat to speed up the onion caramelization process. The sugar (only 1 tablespoon, don’t worry!) contributes sweeter, deeper, faster-developing flavor. Baking powder speeds up browning (that Maillard reaction you may have heard about) and leads to softer onions by breaking down the cells faster. And heat? Well, naturally, food cooks faster at a higher temperature, and the addition of water here reduces the risk of burning and better distributes all the sugars. As the subtitle of the book says, “better home cooking through science.”

“If you’re willing to put in the work to make French onion soup the traditional way,” as in several hours, “it does develop different flavors,” López-Alt told me. They’re not necessarily flavors that are better or worse than with the quicker approach. But will most people be able to tell the difference when this recipe takes only around half an hour to caramelize the onions? (If you’re as deliberate with a knife as I am, it might take you less time to caramelize than to slice the 5 pounds of them.) Certainly not, and it might not even be discernible to a typical palate in a side-by-side tasting. “They’re both good; they’re just a little different,” López-Alt says.