It’s a SNOW DAY! And every snow day needs a warm comforting soup to enjoy after an hour of snowball fights and snow angles. My favorite soup is French Onion – which elevates the under-appreciated onion. Sure, nearly every dish we create is seasoned with some type of allium, whether garlic, shallots, or simple yellow onions. But they rarely get to play the staring role in a dish. Yet onions have such wonderful complex flavors that they really should get to steal the show more often.
French Onion Soup may seem intimidating with its gooey cap of cheese and deep brown caramelized onions, but it really a very easy soup to make. You don’t have tons of vegetables to chop and there are only a few steps – no meat to brown or rice to cook before adding. Nope, you only need onions, broth, a few spices, and patience. I avoid the somewhat intimidating cheese cap by floating gooey Gruyere croutons in my soup, which also ensures that you can enjoy a cup of soup at work a few days later. So take a chance and make your own pot. I promise its the perfect way to end a day of making snowmen and throwing snowballs.
French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons
2 pounds yellow onions
1 pound white onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp dry thyme
1 tbsp onion powder
1 cup wine
5 cups beef broth
2 cups water
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil or parsley pesto
shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese
1) Peel and cut every onion from root to tip. Then slice thin half moons of onion and separate the half rings. Set aside.
2) Add olive oil and butter to a large heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted into the oil, add the sliced onions and toss to coat all of the onions in the fats. Add a tablespoon of salt and half a tablespoon of fresh-cracked black pepper. Begin to caramelize the onions, stirring infrequently to keep the bottom from burning. About halfway through the caramelization process, when the onions our a very light golden color, add the dried thyme and stir well to incorporate. Continue to caramelize until deep golden brown – about 1 to 1.5 hours.
3) Once the onions have caramelized, add in 1 cup of dry red wine and 1 tablespoon onion powder, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 more minutes.
4) Add the beef broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for at least 1 hour.
5) With about 30 minutes left in the cooking process, preheat your oven broiler and place the oven about 9 inches below the flame. Slice the baguette into 1-inch slices and brush with olive oil or parsley pesto. Place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the bread starts to brown. Remove bread from the oven, top with Swiss Gruyere cheese, and put back in the oven until cheese just melts.
6) Serve soup hot, with cheese topped crostini floating on top.