Difficulty Rating: Medium
It's a gray day in Scotts Valley... the marine layer has crept in and I'm feeling like eating soup! One of the things my mom is known for is her French Onion Soup. She makes an incredible Cioppino, a superlative Turkey Soup, wonderful Funnel Cakes, an extremely good Apple Pie and a fabulous French Onion Soup. I have lovely memories of having this on weekends in the winter. The kitchen was clouded with onion-y steam while mom poured soup into ceramic bowls and put them under the broiler topped with slices of French bread and cheese. She never used a recipe, but I know how she did it. This is very similar. Adapted from "Savoring France" by Georgeanne Brennan. Don't leave out the sherry dahling, just a drop!
Note: There is a terrific restaurant in New York city called "Artisinal" that used 3 kinds of onions in their soup. Red, Spanish and leek. Sounds interesting--maybe worth a try! They also use Compte, Emanthaler and Vacherin cheese on top. These are all gourmet swiss-type cheeses and worth the money for those of you who love cheese. This recipe uses Gruyere, which is a bit easier to find--but it might be fun to try the others. Honestly, you don't need to use all three, but a good Compte or Emanthaler alone would be fabulous if you can afford it!
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus 2 T cut into small bits
4 T extra virgin olive oil
2 lb. yellow onions, very thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
8 C beef broth (canned is fine)
2 C water
3/4 C water plus 1/4 C sherry (Ms. Brennan uses 1 C dry red wine--Mom used sherry)
8 slices good French bread or sourdough French, each about 1/2" thick
2 garlic cloves, halved
4 C shredded Gruyere cheese (a good domestic Swiss is OK ) and/OR Compte, Emanthaler, Vacherin
8 t grated Parmesan (or Parmigiano) cheese
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 T butter with 1 T oilve oil. Add onions and saute, stirring , until translucent, 4-5 min. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring often, until onions are well browned, 20-25 min. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook, stiring, until flour is well blended and fragrant, 2-3 min. Add broth and water, 1-2 C at a time, while stirring. Bring to a boil, add wine and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until onions begin to dissolve, 30-40 minutes. Position oven rack 4-6 inches under broiler. Rub both sides of bread with garlic, and brush with remaining 3 T olive oil. Toast under broiler, turning once, until golden, 1-2 min. per side. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 8 ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet. ladle soup into bowls, top each with 2 pieces of toast and sprinkle cheese generously over tops. Dot evenly with butter and sprinkle on 1 t Parmesan per piece. Bake until crust is golden, about 15 minutes.
Note: You can use just Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano is best) or just Gruyere if you like. Or any of the cheeses listed above... Bon Apetit!