French Onion Soup

The hearty, rich stock and sweet caramelized onions perfectly complement the sharpness of the melted Gruyere topping.  Add a green salad and a glass of wine, and you have cozy winter evening supper. This is a large batch recipe, so we like to invite friends to enjoy it with us for dinner one evening and freeze the rest for another meal.

INGREDIENTS:

12 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lb. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1-quart red wine
6 quarts stock – hearty beef, rich chicken stock, or a combination of both*
1 cup brandy
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tablespoon, dried thyme leaves)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups sherry

METHOD:

In a large heavy bottomed pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sliced onions and stir to coat onions in butter.

Cover and cook until onions have wilted and become transparent, stirring occasionally.

Add sugar, stir, and continue to cook uncovered, until onions start to caramelize and turn golden brown. Sprinkle flour evenly over the onions and stir well to combine. Continue cooking, stirring, for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Add wine, stock, brandy, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Add sherry and simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

Make this soup a day ahead to allow flavors to mellow before serving. (However, if you can’t wait, I have cooked and served it the same day and it is delicious.)

*I like to use a combination of beef and chicken stock for this soup in the Alsatian style. However, if you don’t have homemade stock on hand, Old Creek Ranch offers a selection of homemade stock at the Aptos Farmers Market. Also, this soup is delicious made with rich vegetarian stock, as long as it’s flavorful and robust.

TO SERVE:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice a loaf of quality French bread into 1-inch slices. Lightly brush each side of bread with melted butter, or a combination of extra virgin olive oil and melted butter and place on baking pan. Toast bread in oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes or so.

Grate enough Gruyere cheese for the number of bowls of soup you are planning to serve. Allow about 1/3 cup of cheese per serving.

Ladle soup into oven proof bowls. Place a crouton in each bowl of soup and top with 1/3 cup grated cheese. Place in oven at 375°F until cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes. (Place bowls on a parchment lined baking sheet to make it easier to remove hot soup bowls from the oven.)