French Onion Soup
French onion soup is one of my favorite soups ever. I judge many restaurants based on their ability to execute this soup well. It’s not especially difficult to make, but it’s time consuming, and you can’t cut corners. Caramelizing the onions takes time, and that’s where all the delicious subtle flavors in this dish start.FrenchOnionSoup
3 large white onions, julienned
3 large yellow onions, julienned
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white wine
4 quarts beef broth
3-4 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 loaf hearty country style bread
Ground black pepper
1 cup Fontina or Gruyere cheese, grated
Melt the butter in an 8-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add about 1/4 of the onions, and sprinkle with salt. Repeat this process, layering the onions, until all the onions are in the pot. Do not stir for 10-15 minutes, let the onions sweat. Stir about every 15 minutes or so until all the onions are very tender, about an hour.
Increase the heat to medium high. Stir the onions about every 5-10 minutes, de-glazing the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine at a time, as needed. Once all the wine has been used and the onions are a deep mahogany color (about 2-3 hours, minimum, although the longer you spend gently caramelizing the onions, the more depth and richness of flavor you’ll develop), add the broth, the thyme and the bay leaves, and reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
Slice the bread and place it on a baking sheet. Set the oven to broil, place a rack on the top-most setting, and broil the bread until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Turn the bread over and repeat. Turn the oven off and move the sheet tray to the bottom shelf in the oven. As the oven cools, it will continue drying the bread, making it very crisp.
Remove the bread from the oven, and set to broil again.
Fill a soup bowl 3/4 of the way full. Top with a piece of the bread, cover with grated cheese, and broil until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.