Soupe a l’oignon

French Onion Soup is one of my all-time favorite cold-weather comfort foods (though I’d be happy to have a bowl any time of year). It’s surprisingly simple; the key, in my mind, is a really good, stinky Gruyere.

We used a recipe from Epicurious:

2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette
1 (1/2-lb) piece Gruyère, Comte, or Emmental
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

The first step is to cook your onions, thyme, bay leaves, butter and salt until they’re soft and golden-brown.
This may take about 45 minutes.

Next, add flour and stir for 1 minute. Add wine, beef broth, water, and pepper, and simmer while stirring occasionally–for about 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F. Toast slices of bread in a single layer, turning over once, until the croûtes are completely dry–about 15 minutes. You might also rub each with some garlic at this point.
Slice enough Gruyère to cover the tops of each bowl or crock.
After the croûtes are out of the oven, preheat your broiler and place your crocks in a shallow baking pan. Discard the thyme and bay leaves and divide the soup among your crocks, then float a croûte in each.


Cover each crock with cheese, allowing the ends to hang over the edges, and then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. (We mixed Gruyere and Emmentaler for this set, and left off the Parmesan; it still tasted delicious.)
Broil the soup, 4 to 5 inches from the flame, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.  I personally love the browned bits.
Pungent cheese and a bowlful of onions?
It’s a recipe to be shared only with a true love.

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