Sunday, September 4, 2011

French Onion Soup

Serves: 6
Oven Temp: 400°F

3 TBS unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 lrg yellow onions (about 4 lbs), halved and cut pole to pole into ¼-inch thick slices
2 c water, plus extra for deglazing
½ c dry sherry
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 c beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf

1 sm baguette, cut on the bias into ½-inch thick slices
8 oz Gruyere, shredded (about 2 ½ c)

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400°F.  Generously spray the inside of a heavy bottomed large (at least 7 qt) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 tsp salt.  Cook, covered, 1 hour.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. 

Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are significantly reduced in volume and are very soft and golden brown, 1 ½ - 1 ¾ hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot after 1 hour. 

Carefully remove the pot from the oven and place over medium-high heat.  Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15-20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. 

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, 6-8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.  Stir in ¼ c water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen the crust, and cook until the water evaporates and another dark crust has formed on the pot bottom, 6-8 minutes.  Repeat the process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until the onions are very dark brown.  Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in both broths, 2 c water, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ tsp salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on the bottom and sides of pot.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Remove and discard the herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

Croutons: Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 400°F oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

To Serve: Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler.  Set individual broiler-safe crocks on a baking sheet and fill each with about 1 ¾ c of soup.  Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices and sprinkle evenly with Gruyere.  Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, 3-5 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Cook's Country Magazine

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