MAKE: French Onion Soup

“Let me just start off by saying, I love French Onion Soup! It is one of those dishes that warms you up on a cold day and makes you feel cozy. It is so versatile as it can be an appetizer, a starter, or just a great main course.”
– Sadie, Kaboodler since 2011 and soup fanatic since forever

“The thing about French Onion Soup is that it is pretty labor intensive.  Which means that people take short cuts to shorten the process and it always tastes a little less perfect when they do.  So take the time and follow this recipe and you will be so rewarded.  It tastes so rich and full of flavor and looks really impressive for a dinner party.  It can be made ahead and re-heated, just add the bread and cheese to the top and broil at the last minute so you can spend all your time with your guests.  Believe me, they will be amazed and everyone loves it! ”   – Sadie

French Onion Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 6 large yellow onions, halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 4 pounds)
  • table salt
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
  • 1⁄2 cup dry sherry
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 small baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 ounces shredded gruyere cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)

Steps:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
  2. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.) Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

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