I’ve loved French Onion soup my whole life. I even used to like powdered soup mix with garlic croutons and a thick piece of mozzarella.
The soup that I love today takes more preparation than boiling water and opening an envelop. It takes good stock (homemade or not), delicious Gruyère cheese and just enough cognac to make the caramelizing onions take on a life of their own.
- 2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon cognac, a little bit more for sipping
- 2 quarts (8 cups) hot beef or veal stock
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 French baguette, thinly sliced
- Gruyère cheese, thinly sliced
Over medium heat, slowly caramelize the onions in butter for about 30 minutes. Add flour to the onions and stir thoroughly. Add the wine and cognac, cooking long enough to evaporate the alcohol. Add the hot stock, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350C. Before serving, lightly toast the baguette slices. Add Gruyère to the toasted slices and lightly broil. Remove bay leaf. Put soup bowls on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and ladle the soup in the bowls. Put broiled Gruyère toast cheese side down in the soup bowls. Top with a layer of cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes and broil on low for a couple minutes until cheese bubbles and browns.
It’s going to be hot so let it stand a few minutes. You don’t want to burn your tongue on the first spoonful – trust me, you won’t get to enjoy it!
I scored four of those gorgeous ceramic French Onion soup bowls at a Value Village a number of years ago for a buck each, lid included. They get very hot in the oven (duh) so take care and wrap the handles.