A simple bowl of soup can be a deliciously complex experience on the palette; it can also warm us from the inside and give us a bit of comfort when it’s needed. This rich, French Onion Soup with its golden, cheesy top makes for the perfect experience.
In the realm of food, very little offers up more soothing coziness than a piping hot bowl of homemade soup.
Ever since I was a child, I always loved the savory flavor of French Onion soup, and anytime it was offered on a menu at a restaurant that we would go to for dinner, I would ask my parents if I could order that as an appetizer before my meal.
The glorious elixir would always arrive at the table in a small, crock-like white bowl; and I would cautiously proceed because I could tell that it had just been pulled out from under the broiler as the gooey, delicious gruyere cheese was always perfectly melted to a scrumptious golden-brown over that little piece of toast just beneath it.
Ahhh…how it beckoned for me to plunge my spoon into it!
That first bite of French Onion soup was always so exciting: first I’d have to break through that wonderfully cheesy layer and then through the tender toast in order to get all the way to the bottom of the bowl to spoon up the caramelized onions that gave the soup its rich flavor.
And then the taste… Ahhh…the taste!
That perfectly comforting and delectable and complex taste of the soup with its touch of thyme, a bit of sherry for depth, and a savory beef stock. It was love in a bowl, and a true comfort to my soul.
Soup is one of those “little things” in life that can just make a person feel good.
It can take the chill out of the bones, and create an aroma in a home that invites and says, “There’s something exquisite that’s been simmering away on the stove—won’t you partake?”
And though soup can be a wonderfully uncomplicated one-pot meal, its depth and layers of flavors make for an experience that fulfills and sustains.
Ahhh…the cozy, comfort found in a bowl of homemade soup that’s been made with good ingredients, and lots and lots of love and care.
It’s truly one of life’s simple little pleasures, and an opportunity to experience a warm, fuzzy hug from within.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Classic French Onion Soup
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4-6
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 tablespoons canola oil
• 3 extra-large vidalia (or sweet) onions, quartered and sliced thinly
• 2 extra-large white onions, quartered and sliced thinly
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Black pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
• 2 bay leaves (dried is what I used)
• 1 cup sherry (dry, not sweet)
• 8 cups beef stock, hot
• Slices French baguette, toasted (about 8-12 slices, depending on the size and the serving amount)
• 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
• Thyme leaves, for garnish
(*Once you slice the onions, you will have a “mountain” before you, and you may be nervous that it seems like a ridiculous amount of onions, but trust me—once they caramelize down, there will only be about 1/3 of the original amount, if even that much. So don’t panic! You need ’em all!)
-Place a very large pot over medium-high heat, and add in the butter and the oil; once melted together, add in the “mountain” of sliced onions (lol!) and stir to get them situated in the pot; cook them, stirring every few moments, until they begin to soften and wilt down, about 15 minutes.
-After the 15 minutes, add in the sugar, a couple of good pinches of salt, plus a hefty pinch of black pepper, and stir to combine; continue to cook the onions until they caramelize and become a deep, golden-brown, and have an almost “jam” like in consistency, about another 20-25 minutes.
-Once the onions are caramelized and softened, add in the garlic, the thyme, the bay leaves, and the sherry, and stir; simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced.
-Add in the hot beef stock and bring to a rolling simmer/boil, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low, and simmer the soup, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes to marry the flavors and to slightly reduce it.
-Fish out and discard the bay leaves.
-To serve, ladle soup into oven/broiler-proof bowls or little crocks, then top with a couple of pieces of toasted baguette, and about ½ cup of the shredded gruyere cheese, and place on a baking sheet under the broiler to melt and caramelize the cheese; garnish with a few thyme leaves, if desired.