Having a cool Saturday to make a pot of french onion soup and watch college football is relaxing and enjoyable. This soup, embraced and enjoyed by many, comes in a myriad of variations on the same theme: lots of sauteed sliced onion, beefy broth, wine, a large crouton, and a mound of melted cheese. What tends to differ are the type(s) of cheese(s) used to top the soup, and what wine or alcoholic beverage is added to the broth.
This recipe, adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Best of Taste cookbook, uses a combination of chicken and beef stock and adds a cocktail of spirits to the broth, providing a complex yet sweet note at the finish. It’s topped with gruyer cheese and adds pecorino romano cheese to the crouton, but you may use any melting cheese you’d like, such as Swiss, emmenthaler or a combination of cheeses (see below for addendum).
French Onion Soup
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 (I used a mandoline to get the job done quickly. I still teared up a bit!). 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 to light 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.
For the croutons, turn on broiler and slice baguette. Place croutons on baking sheet. Oil each side with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper. Place croutons under broiler and brown on each side.
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.
*Weekend Herb blogging is a weekly event sponsored by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.This week it is being hosted by Kalyn herself!
Addendum- This soup tastes even better the second day! I reheated the soup and toasted a piece of sourdough loaf for the crouton. Then I topped it with some remaining gruyere and shredded cheddar and melted the cheeses under the broiler. I topped it with diced chives. Terrific and even more cheesy than last night. Anything goes!