French Onion Soup
|Preparation Time||20 minutes|
|Cooking Time||180 minutes|
|3 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces||6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine|
|6 large brown onions, halved and cut pole to pole into thick slices||1 bay leaf|
|5ml salt||Ground black pepper to taste|
|2 cups water (450ml)||Cheese Croutons:|
|½ (225ml) cup dry sherry||1 small baguette, cut into slices|
|500ml chicken stock||100ml shredded Gruyère cheese|
|1 litre beef broth|
For the soup:
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 180 degrees.
- Oil a heavy-bottomed large pot oven (or baking rack) and place the butter in the pot. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).
- Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Return the pot to the oven without the lid and continue to cook until the onions are soft and golden brown (about 30 minutes longer), stirring the onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes Reduce the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, roughly 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.
- Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, about 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, (about 5 minutes).
- Stir in the broths, 2 cups of 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. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
For the croutons:
While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in a 180-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately.
Tip: For the best flavour, make the soup a day or 2 in advance. 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.