French Onion Soup
Ahh, French onion soup, that glorious bowl of caramelized onions in a rich, sherry and thyme-laced broth. It is a time-consuming dish to prepare, but worth every minute spent stirring those onions as they slowly brown and sweeten. Optionally topped with a slice of bread and melted comté, there are few better starters in the world.
In the bus we do not have a broiler, which makes the addition of bread and melted cheese a bit more difficult, but I really don’t miss them. The beauty of French onion soup is in the onions, not the cheese. Trust me when I tell you that eating this soup with just a bit of crusty bread on the side is every bit as good, you won’t miss the comté for a second.
Also, while French onion soup is typically made with beef broth, vegetable broth makes a fine alternative to produce a vegetarian version. A well-caramelized pot of onions will still create that distinctive rich, brown broth. I haven’t tried making it with margarine, but I’d bet it is still pretty damn good vegan too.
French Onion Soup
4 lbs. yellow onions
1 cup sherry or dry white wine
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
8 cups beef broth (or vegetable)
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper
Salt to taste
Melt 4 tbsp butter and caramelize the onions over medium heat. This is the most important part of the recipe, but it does mean standing by the stove and occasionally stirring the onions for up to an hour. Eventually, they will cook out enough water and start to turn a beautiful brown, enhancing their sweetness and fragrance.
When the onions are nice and caramelized, add the sherry and herbs to the pot and cook for a few minutes to allow the majority of the moisture to cook off.
Add the stock and allow it to reach a steady simmer, then simmer for at least 10 minutes. This can be put on the back burner and simmered for a long time, if you have other dishes to prepare.
Remove from heat and finish with 2 tbsp white wine vinegar and additional salt, to taste.
Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper, and the traditional crouton with comté, if desired. I think it stands just fine on its own, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of putting it back under a broiler.