Savory onions, gooey cheese, crusty bread…what’s not to love?!
The back story: A few years back, I hated onions. There, I said it.
I don’t know why, I just did (we’ll chalk it up to the ignorance of youth…and some poorly prepared dishes I was fed as child). All this changed once I started cooking. I began to crave onion in my dishes more and more. Now, I add freshly chopped onion to nearly everything I cook.
Today: French Onion Soup is probably one of my favorite dishes to make. Maybe it’s the baguette, maybe its the broiled cheesy top, maybe it’s the giant pot of savory beef broth and onions…or maybe it has something to do with my gorgeous Le Creuset soup crocks that I got this year for Mother’s Day. Truth be told, it’s all of the above. I feel so fancy when I make French Onion Soup. It’s the only dish I make that has special bowls exclusively reserved for it! Seriously, this soup means business!
It’s also the perfect “I’m having someone over for dinner and I want to impress them with BOTH my culinary skills and my super awesome taste in tableware.” The great thing about this soup is it takes practically no time, what so ever, to put together. Which makes it the perfect mid-week “My brain is too fried to think of anything to make for dinner…but I still want something kind of nice because I decided to wear actual clothes today…not just yoga pants” meal. You know you’ve been there.
There are tons of great French Onion Soup recipes out there but this one is really hard to top. It’s adapted from a recipe found in Williams-Sonoma’s “Comfort Food Cookbook ” (big shout out to my bestie Kim for suggesting this recipe!). I really love that it doesn’t call for a whole stick (or more) of butter. I’ve had French Onion Soup before that’s almost too rich to enjoy, and that takes all the fun out of it! You’ll notice that I didn’t add the white wine that the original recipe calls for. I never seem to have wine in the house anymore (let alone cooking wine); but trust me, it’s Ah-Mazing without it.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
-2-3 pounds of onions: halved and sliced (I used a combo of yellow and red onions)
-2 tbs butter
-1 tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
-8 cups of beef stock (I used Low Sodium Better Than Bouillon because it’s pretty much the greatest stuff ever. Seriously, the best.)
-a few sprigs of fresh Thyme
-2 bay leaves
-1 demi-baguette; sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds (or a whole baguette; then you’ll have half of a tasty baguette to eat the next day!…or, if you’re like me, while your soup cooks!)
-2 -3 C shredded provolone, swiss or gruyere (I use a super awesome Provonella cheese that I find at our local Co-Op: Provolone+ Mozzarella = the perfect cheese for this dish!)
-salt and pepper to taste
In a large dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add your sliced onions to the butter and sprinkle with a few grind of salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes; until the onions begin to soften. Turn the heat to medium-low, remove the cover and let cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the onions turn a golden-brown color; stirring occasionally (you will be tempted to eat this entire pot of caramelized onions before you continue making your soup…do not give in).
Add the flour to the onions; stir until all the onions are coated. Now, add 1 cup of your beef stock to the dutch oven. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot to release any tasty brown bits that are stuck. This will help release lots of flavor into your soup. Add the remaining 7 cups of stock. Toss your thyme and bay leaves into the pot, cover, and simmer on low for an additional 1-2 hours (the longer it simmers, the tastier it gets!),
When you’re ready to eat, turn your broiler on high (adjusting the racks so that the top rack is at the second notch in your oven). Spoon your soup into your designated french onion soup crocks; leaving about an inch at the top. Now, place 3-4 slices of bread on top of the soup. Cover with cheese and put under the broiler for about 3 minutes. Here’s the important part: DO NO WALK AWAY FROM THE BROILER! Keep an eye on your bubbling cheese so it doesn’t burn. If you have a super hot broiler, it may only take 1-2 minutes for your cheese to crust up and turn a light gold color. A burnt cheese crust would ruin your dinner…and possibly your whole day (maybe even your week; depending on how much you were looking forward to this meal).
Serves 6-8 (we usually eat half one night, then the other half the next night).
**Don’t have fancy soup crocks? Fear not! Use large ceramic mugs instead!**