This soup is a French classic that has been around since the eighteenth century, supposedly thought of by Louis XV himself when he had limited ingredients while trapped in a hunting cabin. The base of the soup is onions, lots of them, and some kind of stock. The yummy soup is topped with a thick slice of bread (in my case, homemade baguette) and broiled cheese.
Yields: 4 8oz portions of soup
- 4 large sweet onions
- 2 T butter
- 2 T olive oil
- 3 T sauvignon blanc
- 2 T flour
- 2 qts stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 thyme sprig
- 8 to 12 slices of baguette or any other bread, toasted
- 4 slices of gruyère
- Melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat, then add olive oil. Peel and slice four large onions, then add them to the oils. Use a wooden spoon to coat all the onions in oil. Turn the heat down and let the onions cook for 20-25 minutes until they are caramelized, stirring occasionally.
- Once the onions are nice and brown, add the wine and cook for five minutes to reduce it. Add the flour and mix. Slowly pour in the stock, while mixing to release any bits, or fond, from the bottom of the pan. Place the bay leaves and thyme in the pot and bring the soup up to a boil, then turn it down and simmer it for ten minutes to get rid of the flour taste and thicken the soup slightly. Meanwhile, slice and toast your bread.
- Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves and thyme. Dish the soup into oven-safe bowls and top with bread and cheese. Place under a broiler or on the top rack of a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
- To make this soup, I usually use sweet onions because I like the balance they create with the cheese. However, you can use any other type of onion available to you. If you still want a slight sweetness, you can add one tablespoon of brown sugar when the onions are done caramelizing. Make sure the sugar is dissolved before you add the wine.
- Caramelizing onions is almost always done with butter for the richer taste, but any oil can be used. The addition of olive or any other liquid oil increases the smoke, or burn, point of butter. This reduces the risk of burning your onions while they cook. You can completely omit the butter if you want and replace it with the appropriate amount of oil.
- Wine is another optional ingredient. Again, this is done for the flavor and all the alcohol is evaporated.
- This soup is very rich and sweet, so it needs a sharp cheese to balance the flavors. I use gruyère, which is similar to swiss cheese. Some also opt to use comté, which is aged for much longer than gruyère.
- I use the Sur La Table 8 oz Porcelain Cocottes, but any oven-safe dish should be fine.