We received a ton of great suggestions as to where we could find the best baked french onion soup. Traditionally, this deeply flavored soup is topped with a large crouton or croutons and melty, gooey cheese with a crusty top. This would be my soup course if I was on death row.
Although there was a lot of things right about the soup at three places we tried, there was a clear winner. Here are our results –
Number 3 – HobNob– 277 Sheridan Road, Racine, $5.25
I always love the vibe of the HobNob. The vintage atmosphere practically forces you to imbibe in a martini (or two). I overheard one of the bartenders telling a patron that since the closing of Ray Radigan’s in Kenosha, the HobNob’s business has picked up. And that makes sense – we LOVE the supper club experience in SE Wisconsin!
As far as their french onion soup goes – it had its good points. Plenty of onions in the bowl and tons of cheese baked on top, giving it an almost creme brulee-like crust. However, we didn’t care for the soggy, tasteless “crouton” plopped under that cheese. It was too mushy. As for the broth it was oniony but lacked overall flavor.
Number 2 – Erv’s Mug– 130 West Ryan Road, Oak Creek, $5.49
Erv’s is just north of Racine County and it is locally famous for its fish fry and starting this week, Erv’s Mug’s interior will be Christmas crazy with lights and decorations. Although they have a bar, the dining area is large and kid-friendly.
Erv’s also has good reason to be proud of their Crock of Baked French Onion Soup. The broth was great, the crouton was shaped to fit the mug, nicely seasoned, and retained some exterior crispness. Another soup Erv’s offered that night was crocked Cajun buffalo chicken cheese….very interesting but we didn’t have room to try it.
And the winner… No. 1 – The Corner House– 1521 Washington Avenue, Racine, $6.75
The Corner House is a supper club in the Uptown area of Racine that has been in operation since 1945. The celebrity-signed menus that decorate the entry area mostly make references to their famous prime rib.
If the french onion soup at Corner House isn’t perfection, then it’s damn close.
The rich, beefy and oniony broth was loaded with caramelized, julienned onions. The mozzarella and provolone cheeses on top were bubbly and but baked so nicely that we were scraping the sides of the bowl to try to pry off the cheese. But what really put it over the top was the crouton. It remained crunchy until we finished the entire bowl as if created by some sort of crouton wizard. The bartender told us that their secret is to deep fry the crouton — well, this was a difference-maker. It made my mouth happy to have that bit of crunch to accompany all those soft onions. In fact the next day, I found myself craving more.
If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a compete dinner, you can have the soup and a brandy old-fashioned at the bar. It’s a great time of year for a delicious bowl of soup. I’ll be heading back to the Corner House very soon to get my next fix.