French Onion Soup
During frigid winter days, there is nothing quite like a hearty bowl of warm soup. These recent Chicago weeks have brought us snow, freezing rain, below zeros temperatures, and peeks of sun in between. Most of the time I wish I were in bed under my electric blanket or on the couch hiding from the elements. Soup is the perfect way remedy to these days, right? Then again, when I was a child and home to eat lunch during the summer months, my first request would be soup. My dad would exclaim, “But, this is not soup weather!” I still just don’t understand because isn’t any weather soup weather? (I also was fond of wearing heavy socks year round and my dad would also chase me around to remove them as I would laugh and evade his reach. He always said that seeing me wear socks when it was hot made him feel hot. What can I say? I’ve always been kind of a cold girl in all temperatures and heck, I know I’m not alone here.)
I wish I could remember the first time I had French Onion Soup and it’s quite surprising that I do not as I feel certain that is when I fell in love with it. The rich, onion-y broth plus the cheesy gruyere-y bread on top makes for a heavenly meal. I remember in college I would buy canned soup and mozzarella as I did not have the time to cook or the budget to buy Gruyere. I call that Progresso version my “poor girl’s”’ version of French onion soup. Delicious, but definitely a weak substitution.
My favorite thing about this soup is that the magic is simply in cooking the onions, getting them to turn into magical sweetness as they caramelize. Really. That is it. The two hardest parts of this recipe is cutting the onions and the wait for them to cook down. It is insane what raw onions, butter, and minutes can do.
0 minute onions
3 minute onions
15 minute onions
30 minute onions
And here ya go…40 minute onions. Do you see the MAGIC?!
I have two twists to this recipe:
- I like to have a piece of cheesy bread with most every bite. To make this happen without the struggle of using my spoon to cut the bread, I make Gruyere topped croutons. No more fighting the bread! WIN!
- It is gluten free! When I made this, my friend Renee was coming over and she adheres to a gluten free diet. And to still get your cheese fix, just stir in the freshly grated Gruyere at the end versus melting it on top of your croutons.
I hope that you try out this recipe as this is the perfect soup weather, according to my Papa. But, if you’re me, then you’ll be willing to try it out in any weather! Enjoy!
- White onions - 8 medium (or 6 large)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 5 sprigs rosemary
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 quarts beef broth
- 3/4 bottle red wine (*optional and can sub more broth)
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 loaf french baguette
- 1 cup grated Gruyere
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and slice onions into quarter moons, about 1/4 inch thick
- Melt butter on medium in heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven
- Add onions, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves
- Stir every 10 minutes for 30-40 minutes until caramelized (rich, brown color, NOT BURNT)
- Deglaze with wine/broth by stirring with onions
- Let cook for 10 minutes while onions absorb it
- With remaining liquid, combine 2 tbsp with the cornstarch, stir thoroughly and add to pan with the rest of the broth
- Heat through, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes
- While soup continues to cook, dice french bread, coat with olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flipping pieces halfway through
- Top with grated cheese and heat in oven for 5 more minutes
- To serve, remove herb springs and bay leaves, ladle soup in bowls and top with cheesy croutons
- *Instead of the cornstarch, you may sub 2 tbsp flour that you stir in with the onions right after the caramalize