WRITTEN ON October 26th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Cheese, Dinner, No really, what IS for lunch?, Soups

There is something so deliciously earthy and home-spun about a crock of steaming onion soup on a chilly night.  Slurping the winey broth while wrapping the strings of gooey Gruyere around my spoon (the perfect bite), I feel like I could close my eyes and be transported back to the turn of the century markets at Les Halles, where fishermen, farmers, late night revelers and debaucherous types alike flocked to the stalls in the early morning Parisian fog for big, steaming bowls of the now classic French mainstay.  Until, that is, Damon hits a two run single and the screams from my husband (and everyone at the bar across the street) bring me back to my 950 square foot reality.

That’s the true power of great food though.  It can take you places you’d never be able to go, trawl up long forgotten memories with one whiff, and link to you people and history, right from the comfort of your own couch.

This recipe might seem labor intensive, but there is so much time in between steps (waiting for the onions to brown, letting the soup simmer and reduce) that you can be busy with other things, like fixing a salad or doing laundry or just plain relaxing with the new Dan Brown novel.  Do be patient.  This is slow food, and it’s worth the wait.

The French strike again

The French strike again

Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons (serves 4)
6 large yellow onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
½ cup dry sherry
¼ cup dry red wine
8 cups low-sodium beef broth
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices baguette (sliced on the bias)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

In a large heavy pot (cast iron works great), heat olive oil and melt butter.  Add onions, salt and pepper, sauté over medium-low heat until well browned and very soft, about 30-40 minutes (Be patient.  If you find that some of the onions are browning faster than others, its because your pot has a “hot spot.” Just stir occasionally to keep the onions moving from one spot to another.  This will also help you pick up the nice color from the bottom of the pot).  Once onions are well caramelized, add garlic, sauté one minute more.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring, about one minute.  Add sherry and wine, stirring constantly to ensure you don’t have lumps.  Bring to a boil and reduce about 2 minutes. Add beef broth, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil (this is crucial, because it will activate the starches in the flour that create the thick, velvety broth), then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer about 30 minutes, until soup has reduced and the broth is thickened and silky.  Check for seasoning.  In the meantime, heat broiler.  Place 4 small, oven proof soup bowls on a cookie sheet.  Ladle soup into each bowl about ¾  high. Top each with 2 slices of baguette, sprinkle liberally with cheese.  Place under broiler for about 5 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply