A classic soup favorite is skillfully re-invented at a small plates restaurant in lower Manhattan. CHOW.com Contributing Editor Liza de Guia reports on a dish perfect for the cold months: the French onion soup dumplings at The Stanton Social.
The Stanton Social is a swanky, dimly lit, multi-level restaurant in the Lower East Side where traditional French onion soup gets a playful and inventive new twist.
The restaurant specializes in small plates. It was the vision that came to the owners six years ago after concluding that the best parts of meals were always the appetizers. So, they built a beautiful space dedicated to dishes worth sharing, pulling from their love of street food and comfort food to design their extensive 40-item menu.
I’m here because I love a good French onion soup: hot gooey cheese, piled over a crusty slice of bread floating in a rich oniony broth. But here, their version will surprise you because it doesn’t come in soup form; instead, they’ve reinvented it as a dumpling.
They start by slow-cooking onions in their dense, house-made beef broth. When the onions are ready, they “magically” transform them into a dumpling form. I say “magically” because certain steps of the recipe are a tightly-guarded secret. They fry them, pack them tightly into a repurposed escargot dish. Next, they pile on loads of grated gruyere cheese then heat it in the oven until the cheese browns and bubbles. Right before serving, they cleverly add a homemade garlic crouton for crunch and spear it with a stick.
The presentation is pretty exciting, and in every bite, you get a rich burst of broth, a mouthful of soft, delicate onions, a sharp chew of hot salty cheese, and a crispy crouton finish.
According to the chef, the dish is so popular, restaurants have tried to recreate it for years. Meaning, yes, it’s that good.
The Stanton Social is located at 99 Stanton Street between Orchard and Ludlow in Manhattan. For more dining recommendations, visit CHOW.com.