Is there anything better on a chilly winter day than a bowl of hearty French Onion Soup topped with melty cheese?
I have a love/hate relationship with winter. I hate being cold. I hate walking the dogs on icy sidewalks. I hate driving in the snow. I hate how little daylight there is in winter.
But at the same time, I'd hate to live in a place that didn't have winter. I love being home on a snow day, watching the flakes fall with a cup of hot cocoa, and a pot of soup simmering on the stove.
When my brother and I would come inside from playing in the snow, my parents would make us each a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup: chicken noodle for me; creamy tomato for my brother.
I'm picky when it comes to soup. I usually prefer creamy soup, unless it's tomato soup. Chicken noodle is one exception; French onion soup is the other. Maybe it's the layer of gooey, melty cheese on top.
Good French onion soup is based on well-caramelized onions. Caramelizing onions (breaking down the sugars in the onions to produce a sweeter flavor) takes time; you can't rush the process. Some try to cheat by adding sugar to the onions as they cook, but I don't like the flavor that gives to the soup overall.
This recipe can be made ahead of time, through Step 7, then cooled to room temperature and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat the soup to about simmering before proceeding with Step 8.
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for bread
- 3 large onions , (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 quart beef stock
- 4 slices hearty white bread, thick-sliced preferred, cut to fit bowls
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 thyme sprig
- 2 juniper berries, or half a sprig of fresh rosemary
- 2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
- 2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (about 6 ounces)
- Lay a square of cheesecloth (about 4 inches by 4 inches) on a flat surface. Place the bay leaf, thyme, juniper berries and parsley sprigs in the center, then draw up the four corners and tie with butcher's twine to form a bouquet garni. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 10 minutes.
- Uncover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized, about 40 minutes.
- Stir in the brandy, scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven as you pour the brandy in.
- Add the stock. Submerge the bouquet garni and increase the heat to high; bring the soup to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the soup has a deep flavor, about 30 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, heat the oven to 350°. Butter the bread on both sides and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast the bread for 15 minutes, turning the slices halfway through, until golden and crisp but not dried out.
- Squeeze the bouquet garni of excess liquid; discard. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
- Ladle the soup into 4 deep ovenproof bowls and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Place a toasted bread sliced in each bowl and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Place the bowls on a baking sheet, and place the baking sheet under a broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. Serve hot.
Make ahead: The recipe can be prepared through Step 7 up to 3 days ahead. Bring to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Simmer soup before continuing with the last step.
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Cheese Cloths, 20x20Inch, Grade 90, 100% Unbleached Pure Cotton Muslin Cloth
Butchers Twine, Food Safe Cotton (White)
OXO Good Grips 3- Piece Wooden Utensil Set
Professional Box Grater, Stainless Steel with 4 Sides
OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Ladle
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 7.25 qt.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 543Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 1191mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 28g
I am not a certified nutritionist. This nutrition information is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only.
Adapted from Food & Wine
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