13 January, 2009

French Onion Soup

On a cold winter's night, is there anything so comforting and satisfying as a delicious bowl of French onion soup? Its rich, beefy broth and bubbly cheese, served right out from under the broiler, is a perfect way to snuggle in to dinner; sleet and snow don't seem so bleak outside when the woodstove is glowing and there's onion soup on the table.

It's easy to make, too.

French Onion Soup
Serves 4

6 tbsp butter
2 pounds yellow onions, sliced thin
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1 rounded tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup dry sherry or sake
8 cups of beef stock

1 baguette, sliced
1 clove of garlic, roughly broken
Extra virgin olive oil
Sliced or grated gruyere cheese or deli-sliced Havarti and Muenster cheeses

Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet and cook the onion and thyme over medium heat until the onion is softened and amber in color (about 20 minutes.) Bring the heat to medium-high and continue to cook for 15 minutes, until the onion caramelizes and becomes dark amber, stirring now and again to prevent sticking. Add the sherry or sake and deglaze the pan at a simmer, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Season to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the baguette slices on both sides under a broiler. Rub the toasted slices with broken garlic and drizzle lightly with a bit of olive oil. Top each crouton with some cheese and run them back under the broiler just until the cheese has melted and is a bit bubbly. Set them aside.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Top each serving of soup with one or two of the croutons, then top these with some additional cheese - I've found that a slice of Muenster and a slice of Havarti, slightly offset from one another atop each bowl, is favored by my wife and daughter. Run the bowls under the broiler until the cheese topping is bubbling and slightly browned, and carefully lift them to the table to enjoy.


1. Take your time cooking and caramelizing the onions. A rich, dark amber coloring can take some time, but you're repaid with a wonderful, flavorful, fragrant final product.

2. You can use any kind of beef stock you like - reconstituted from bouillon or soup base, canned, or freshly prepared. I've made this soup using many different kinds of stock, and my favorite is still "from scratch."



Michele said...

my favorite soup ever! I make it at least 5 different ways. And I couldn't agree more...you can not cut corners and not caramelize the onions. It's one step that you can't leave out...well at least if you want great tasting soup. I think I'll make this tomorrow to go with sandwiched for dinner.

Peej said...

I have to try this. I love to serve a small bowl of french onion soup alongside of beef dishes. Such as London broil, Stroganoff, Roast and veggies, ect. But I wanted to add that if I don't have a lot of time and need to cheat to throw dinner on the table... I use a mixture of Beef Consume', beef broth and a partial package of dry onion soup mix for my base. I agree, don't attempt to skip the step of caramelizing the onions, whether your cheating or not! Thanks again Dave!