“Oh – Fancy!” was the reaction from my youngest when I served this for dinner the other night. This time of year, with all the hustle and bustle and big family dinners, it’s good to have a few easy (but impressive) recipes up your sleeve for last-minute meals – warm, savory and satisfying down to your bones. French Onion Soup fills that bowl perfectly.
Mr. B. and I both prefer this recipe over heavier preparations – still thick and hearty, this version satisfies our personal palate – it is less salty than many popular “restaurant” versions, made slightly lighter with the use of vegetable stock instead of beef broth and white wine in place of the more common red. Make the carmelized onions ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, and you can easily make this soup in 30 minutes!
- 1 baguette, sliced in ½-3/4-inch rounds
- ½ cup butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 5-inch sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 cup white wine (I like my French Onion Soup slightly on the sweet side: Reisling works very nicely for me)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 medium onions, caramelized
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I use 4 cups of water plus 3 teaspoons of "Better Than Bouillon" Vegetable Base)
- 6 ounces Gruyere, grated (Provolone works nicely too)
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper and sauté for a few seconds, until you can smell the garlic sautéing. Remove from heat.
- (If you don't have caramelized onions already prepared, add four sliced medium onions to the herb-butter mixture now and continue to cook over medium-low heat until very soft and caramelly. This will take no less than one hour. Don't rush it or your onions may turn out bitter.)
- Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Brush lightly with the garlic-herb butter from the pot. Set under broiler just long enough to toast lightly. Flip the baguette rounds over and repeat. Set aside.
- To the remaining herb-butter mixture, add the caramelized onions and cook until the mixture is hot and there is very little liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are nearly dry, about 5 minutes. If you used fresh thyme, discard the thyme sprigs. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. (This is to cook out the raw flour taste.) Now add the vegetable stock, return to a simmer, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Season, to taste.
- When you are ready to serve, ladle hot soup into oven-safe bowls and float several of the prepared baguette croutons on top. Sprinkle with grated gruyere and place under broiler just long enough to melt and slightly brown the cheese.
P.S. I would love to find a potter who would make me some individual soup crocks – any suggestions?