Who doesn't love French Onion Soup? Sweet caramelized onions swimming in hearty beef broth topped with bread and gooey melted cheese that is browned on top? As Anne Burrell says, "Brown food is gooooood!" The cheese alone makes us crave it! And so we bring you our version, which involved not one, not two...but seven different types of onions because that's how we do things around here. And we caramelized them for not one, not two, but three hours. Yes, you read that right. To coax as much delicious sweetness out of those onions, we kept them covered and cooking over low heat for three whole hours, stirring often, but otherwise patiently waiting as the house filled with a mouth-watering oniony scent. This is the perfect process for a snowy Sunday afternoon, btw. The major debate during preparation was what type of wine to use? White, red, and sherry all were put on the table. We ended up choosing red because we love red with beef, and we were using beef broth. But we encourage experimentation...always!
Note: Our onion variety included one large each of the following: red, yellow, white, and sweet, plus four shallots, 8 pearl and 8 cippollini.
Start with 8 cups of sliced onions
Cooked for one hour
Cooked for two hours
Cooked for three hours
Just the soup
Topped with garlicky croutons
Topped with plenty of cheese, please!
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
3 pounds onions, thinly sliced to about 8 cups' worth
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
4 1/2-inch-thick pieces of baguette
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and butter together until the butter is melted. Add the sliced onions and stir until all onions are coated. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Cook for three hours, stirring every fifteen minutes or so, until the onions are golden brown. Sprinkle the onions with the flour, stir until coated, and cook another five minutes. Slowly pour in the red wine and cook, stirring, until about half the wine is evaporated. Add the broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes. When ready to serve, mix the cheeses together in a bowl. Rub the baguette slices with garlic, toast them, then cut them into crouton-size bites. Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls and top with the croutons. Heat broiler on high. Top the entire bowl generously with the cheese mixture and place on a baking sheet under the broiler for 4-5 minutes to melt and brown the cheese. Enjoy carefully! Bowls will be hot!