My little sister, LOVES French Onion soup. Well, who doesn’t? Delicious sweet and savory broth topped with a buttery piece of French bread covered in gooey Gruyere!? How could you go wrong! But getting your onions to give up their succulent insides takes hours, standing in front of the stove as you deglaze over and over. But fear not! This tried and true technique can cut down on that BIG TIME! So without further ado…
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onions (about 4 lbs), cut pole to pole
2 cups water (and some extra for deglazing)
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
10 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese
What to do:
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Snag your Dutch oven (did you just giggle? gross.) and chop those onions. Make sure you cut them pole to pole (this preserves the onion structure, like cutting wood with the grain). But seriously, cut them that way, it’s better! Next, spray the inside of your oven-safe pot with cooking spray, or rub it down with butter, either way, we can’t have the onions sticking to the sides quite yet. Place the onions, 3 pads of butter and a tablespoon of salt in the pot, cover it, and then stick it in the oven. Cutting the butter up like that helps it melt and spread faster. Come back in an hour or so.
Now scrape the bottom and sides; this semi-burnt brown crust is the goods! Building it up, scraping it off and dissolving it back into the broth is what really makes this soup dance on your buds like it’s supposed to. Return the pot to the oven, lid slightly ajar for another 1-2 hours. Check every hour or so to scrape/dissolve the goods.
At this point you’ll get real aggressive with the good-getting (occasionally you’ll hear this refered to as ‘deglazing’, but I like the alliteration). Start by donning some over safe mitts, and placing your pot over medium heat on the stove. Let the water that’s collected in the bottom to evaporate and a bit of more brown crust to form. This usually takes 5-10 minutes. Add a 1/4 cup water, and scrape the crust, dissolving it, and taking care not to miss any that’s collected on the back of your spoon or spatula. Repeat once or twice more. Make sure your final deglaze is with the sherry instead of water. Once it too has evaporated, the onions will start to look like this…
Here’s where you’ll want to add the rest of your ingredients and simmer 30 minutes to an hour (or for as long as you can hold back the masses who have been waiting anxiously for your soup!).
Once you’re ready to serve, ladle the soup into an oven-safe bowl and float a slice of French bread on top. If you cut the baguette on a diagonal, you can get big long slices. Smother the bread-raft in shredded Gruyere, and place under a boiler until the cheese is bubbly and just starting to turn brown.
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