French Onion Soup is one of my favorite soups. While eating it is wonderful in the winter, I enjoy French Onion Soup year round. When the mood strikes, I buy a bag of onions, break out my cheap mandoline, don my goggles (seriously) and get slicing. Once the drudgery of slicing what seems like a bushel of onions is done, the rest is smooth and tearless sailing and I can just enjoy the smells as they fill my kitchen.
What I really like about this recipe is the cocktail of spirits it includes. I think alcohol adds a special and distinctive essence to food, and the changes in flavors once alcohol is imparted are fascinating. With a cheesy cap and crouton tucked inside, this soup is stick-to-your-ribs satisfying.
French Onion Soup
Adapted from Williams Sonoma The Best Of Taste
- 2 T. butter
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2 1/2 lb. onions, peeled and sliced thin
- 3/4 c. dry white vermouth
- 3/4 c. dry white wine
- 3 c. chicken broth
- 3 c. beef broth
- bunch fresh thyme, tied with cooking string
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 c. dry sherry
- 2 c. gruyere cheese, shredded
- 6 slices baguette, slice 1 inch thick
- olive oil for brushing
- salt and pepper
- 6 T. grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (optional, or you could use Parmesan cheese if you have it on hand)
Peel onions and slice thinly. In a heavy bottomed pot, add olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions and turn the heat down to low. Stir to coat all onions. Add a pinch of salt and allow to caramelize slowly over a period of approximately 2 hours. Stir every 10 minutes or so.
When onions are deep golden brown, transfer to another bowl. Increase heat to high and deglaze pan with vermouth and white wine. Scrape up any brown bits on bottom of pan and allow liquid to reduce by half. Return onions to pot and add chicken and beef broth. Add bay leaves and thyme. Partially cover pot and allow soup to simmer for 20 minutes. Add sherry and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaves and bundle of thyme. You’ll notice that many of the thyme leaves are now in the soup. Salt and pepper to taste.
Leave broiler on and place one crouton into individual oven proof serving crocks. Add 1 tablespoon of grated pecorino on top of each crouton. Ladle onion soup over croutons to 1/4 below the rim. Add shredded gruyer to the top of each crock. Put crocks back on baking sheet and place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.