French Onion Soup
Don't use sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, as they will make this recipe a little TOO sweet so go with plain ole white or yellow onions. Be patient when caramelizing the onions in step 2; the entire process takes 45 to 60 minutes. Use broiler-safe crocks and keep the rim of the bowls 4 to 5 inches from the heating element to obtain a proper gratinée of melted, bubbly cheese. We don't have any crocks so you will see I used ordinary soup bowls, sprinkle the toasted bread slices with Gruyère, Mozzarella, Fontina, Provolone and return them to the broiler until the cheese melts, then float them on top of the soup. I use either Kitchen Basics Stocks and Broths or Pacific. They both come in reclosable boxes that you can snap shut and store any leftover in your fridge for use later. I use them to deglaze a pan with, cook rice in, add to a pan to lighly braise a piece of meat to the temperature I wanna serve it at after I have seared it... all kinds of things really. For the best flavor, DO make the soup a day or 2 in advance. The flavors really develop sitting in the fridge for at least 24 hrs. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe if you wanna get ahead.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see picture below)
2 cups water , plus 1 cup for deglazing (use 1/4 cup at a time)
1/2 cup cooking sherry
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, wrapped and tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
Ground black pepper
1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
(I used a good lower carb, whole wheat multi grain sliced bread)
8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
(or use Mozzarella, Fontina, or Provolone Cheese at your preference)
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.
Start of cutting onion pole to pole. (from root end to sprout end)
After cutting one half pole to pole and root end was removed
Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt.
Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).
Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot.
Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat.
Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.)
Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes.
Repeat process of deglazing 3 or 4 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer.
If you leave a "tail" on your wrapped and tied Thyme,
you can tie it to your pot handle so its easier to fish out when the cooking is over.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
At this point Cool and Store your soup for at least 24 hrs to really develop the flavor.
For the croutons:
While reheating the soup soup, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet.
Bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
(If using regular bread you can just put the bread in the toaster to toast)
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup.
Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Cheese.
Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
If using soup bowls:
Place toasted bread on foil lined, and sprayed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with Cheese.
Broil until cheese is melted 2-3 mins. Place on top of bowls of hot soup and serve.