French Onion Soup is one of those classic dishes I order as an appetizer when dining out in a French restaurant. It’s simply so warm and comforting, and the flavors of buttery onions swimming in a broth cooked down with red wine and topped with toasted bread and cheese is like drinking a fine red Burgundy that you don’t want to end.
I wanted to replicate what I’ve had in restaurants, but in a simple recipe that still offers all the gourmet flavors. To my astonishment, even our teenagers slurp up every spoonful. I don’t think there’s any other way I can get them to enjoy onions!
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 Vidalia onions, sliced
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts, or 8 cups of organic beef broth
loaf of sourdough bread
1/2 lb of grated Gruyere cheese
You will need a large pot, I prefer the Le Creuset 7 1/4 quart Dutch Oven. Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat then add the onions, garlic, bay leaves and fresh thyme. You’ll want to caramelize the onions, so this will take about 20 minutes or so. Be sure to season with salt and pepper along the way. Turn up the heat, add the wine and bring to a light boil. Once the wine has evaporated, remove the bay leaves and season with a little salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the flour. Do not leave unattended, you will want to stir the onions until the flour is incorporated and doesn’t scorch the bottom, about 10-15 minutes. Add the organic beef broth and bring to a simmer, season with fresh pepper. Keep the soup at a low simmer.
Now you will need to prepare the cheese covered bread (croutons). I cook the soup in traditional Lion’s Head soup bowls (large size for a meal) and cut the bread to fit with round, stainless steel pastry cutters. Turn on the oven broiler to high and place your sliced bread on a broiling pan or heavy duty sheet pan. Cover each piece of bread with cheese, but leave some of the cheese for later. Broil the bread until the cheese is melted, but not browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Take a heavy duty sheet pan (preferable one with a lip around the edges) and place your bowls on top. Ladle the soup in and then place your bread and cheese croutons on top. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and carefully place the pan of soups in the oven. Cook until cheese becomes bubbly and slightly browned. Carefully remove from oven and serve!
Wine pairing ideas: Keep it traditional with French wines. I prefer a red Burgundy or red Côtes du Rhône.