I have never been a fan of onions and, until last year, I’ve never eaten french onion soup. The idea of eating onions in broth never appealed to me. Last winter Mr. Surly asked if I would make him some french onion soup; he’s a fan. I decided to use a Williams Sonoma recipe, because, even though some of their recipes are a bit involved, they always taste fantastic. Luckily, this recipe is easy, it just cooks for a long time. I hate onions but I love the soft, caramelized onions in this soup. This is a staple for us when it’s chilly outside and we want a nice, light soup to warm us up.
French Onion Soup
3-4 yellow onions (~1 ¼ lb)
2 Tbl unsalted butter
~1 Tbl canola oil
good pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 c light red or dry white wine (I buy a french red wine from trader joes, it’s only $8/bottle)
4 c Wolfgang Puck beef stock (I’ve tried others, and this brand is far superior)
1 bay leaf
~1 c shredded Gruyère cheese
Thinly slice the onions lengthwise; set aside.
In a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the onions, sugar and some salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are meltingly soft, golden and lightly caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.
Add the wine, increase the heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced by about half, ~8 to 10 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf, reduce the heat to medium-low and let the soup simmer, uncovered, until it is dark and fully flavored, about 45 minutes. If the liquid is evaporating too quickly and the soup seems to taste too strong, add a little water, then cover the pot and continue cooking.
While soup is simmering, preheat an oven to 400°F to toast the bread. You can either use slices or large croutons. I like to make thick croutons because I always find it difficult to break up the slice of bread in my soup; I usually end up splashing hot soup everwhere. I cut up the bread into thick cubes and toast until browned. For slices, arrange the bread on a baking sheet and toast, turning once, until golden on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Remove the bay leaf from the soup and discard. Arrange ovenproof soup bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the hot soup into the bowls. Place toast on top of each bowl and sprinkle with the cheese. Broil until the cheese melts and the toasts are lightly browned around the edges ~7-10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Source: adapted from Williams Sonoma