Most soups consist of a bevy of ingredients. French Onion Soup is an exception, since it’s basically a broth with onions, topped with toast and cheese. Sounds pretty simplistic, doesn’t it? It is and it isn’t. Even though the ingredient list is super short and uncomplicated, the soup just overflows with luxurious flavor.
I think it’s a combination of magical caramelization of the onions and the delicious, homemade broth. I recently shared my Homemade Beef Broth with you and you already heard me rave about the incredible depth of flavor in that broth. That is why this delicate but scrumptious soup doesn’t need too much fuss and feathers – it’s already abounding in rich flavor. Finishing off the soup is the gorgeously melted, Gruyere cheese, with it’s note of nuttiness and melty goodness. This soup does take some time and patience, but the actual hands on work is very minimal. It’s perfect for a cozy day when you are spending the day at home, possibly catching up on housework, or just lazying around the house. It’s very comforting but is also splendidly suited for an elegant meal. In fact, Sergi and I had it for Valentine’s Day this year.
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds),
2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
1/2 cup dry sherry
6 cups of Homemade Beef Broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
You may be skeptical of using the oven to caramelize the onions, and I get it. It’s a brilliant method, though. Instead of standing next to the stove for a long, long time, waiting for the moment of transformation into delicious caramelization, it’s so much easier to allow the oven to do the work for you, while you relax or busy yourself with something else.
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
- 6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds),
- 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
- ½ cup dry sherry
- 6 cups Homemade Beef Broth
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
- 1 bay leaf
- Ground black pepper
- 1 small baguette, cut into ½-inch slices
- 8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2½ cups)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel and cut the onions in half and then slice them from pole to pole. Grease a large dutch oven with oil on the bottom and the sides. Add the butter, onions, ½ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of sugar into the prepped Dutch oven. Mix to combine.
- Place it into the preheated oven and cook, covered, for 1 hour. At this point, take the onions out of the oven and mix to combine.
- Return to the oven, leaving the lid slightly uncovered and cook for about 1½ hours more.
- Take the dutch oven out of the oven and put it on the stovetop, heating to medium heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the onions are browning and the liquid evaporates.
- Deglaze the pot with about ¼ cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pot to get all the fond off. Cook for another 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the bottom of the pot is brown again. Don't get nervous about it, this creates awesome flavor for the soup.
- Repeat this 3 more times. The onions will be very dark brown now.
- This time, deglaze the pot with the sherry and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Pour in the broth and water, add the bay leaf and thyme. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about half an hour. Season with salt and pepper, if it needs it. Discard the thyme and bay leaf.
- Cut the baguette into ½ inch slices, place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the bread is lightly golden, 8-10 minutes.
- Pour the soup into oven proof ramekins, place the toasted bread on top of the soup and sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the bread.
- Place the ramekins into the oven, with the oven rack set about 6 inches from the broiler. Broil for just a few minutes, so that the cheese melts.
If you're using store bought Beef Broth, use only 2 cups of beef broth and 4 cups of chicken broth. Store bought beef broth is just seriously lacking in flavor, so it's best to use mostly chicken broth with just a bit of beef broth.
You can prepare the soup ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Then simply reheat the soup, top it with the toasted bread and cheese and place it under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese and serve.