dare you name a soup that requires more effort than French onion soup. It’s one of those dishes that you might just enjoy when you’re in a restaurant.
That would be a shame, because the rewards for making your own are well worth it.
Restaurants don’t make French onion soup every day. It sits in the cold, waiting for someone to order it. When the order arrives, it’s poured into a bowl, slapped with some bread and cheese, and placed under the salamander for a while. This is, if you’re lucky, it wasn’t microwaved first.
By making your own, you can experience what fresh French Onion Soup is like, with all its glory intact.
It should snow, and then drop below zero by Sunday. I don’t know about you, but it seems like the perfect time for French onion soup to me.
6 large red or yellow onions
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
8 cups beef broth or chicken broth
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices (1 inch thick) French bread or baguette
1 1/2 cups grated gruyere cheese
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan
1. Peel and thinly slice the onions from root to stem. There should be about 10 cups of sliced onions total.
2. In a heavy-bottomed 5- to 6-quart saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook the onions, stirring often, until softened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and the butter and cook, stirring often, until the onions are starting to brown, about 20 to 40 minutes. The amount of time varies depending on the pot, stove and onions.
3. Sprinkle with sugar (to help caramelize) and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook until the onions are well browned, about 10 to 15 more minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for one more minute
4. Add the wine or vermouth to the pot and scrape the browned bits off the bottom and sides of the pot, deglazing the pot as you go.
5. Add the broth, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
6. Season to taste with more salt and add freshly ground black pepper. Discard the bay leaves.
7. While the soup simmers, line a baking sheet with baking paper or foil and preheat the oven to 200°C with a rack in the top of the oven. Lightly brush both sides of the French bread or baguette slices with olive oil (you’ll end up using about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil for this). Place in the oven and toast until lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven. Turn the toasts over and sprinkle them with the grated gruyere and parmesan. Return to the oven when close to serving time and cook until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
8. To serve, pour the soup into a bowl and transfer a toasted cheese sandwich on top of each bowl of soup. Alternatively, you can use individual ovenproof bowls or a large baking dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or saucepan. Cover with the toasted bread and sprinkle with cheese. Place in broiler for 10 minutes at 350°F, or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.