We just got back to Dallas from a week away on vacation and it is suddenly fall here. The air is cool and crisp and I am so excited for all the yummy wintery food to come. In our house this means a lot of soups, stews and chili.
First up for the fall day, my husband's favorite soup - french onion. The recipe I use is adapted from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles recipe.
7-8 onion sliced (I use a mix of red and yellow)
2 tablespoons butter
8 cups broth (I use half chicken and half beef)
bouquet garni (sprig of thyme, bay leaf, spring of parsley)
1/4 cup red wine
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 slices of bread
1 cup gruyere/ emmenthaller
I saute the onion low and slow until they are perfectly brown with just the butter and some salt and pepper. This takes almost an hour, but it is worth it. I always want to turn the heat up about half an hour in and my husband (who has way more patience than me) always stops me. And, he is always right about this. This process just cannot be rushed. I love making this soup on a lazy weekend. Sitting at the table, drinking wine, reading a book and taking turns with husband stirring the onions every 5 minutes or so, afternoon perfection.
Meanwhile, I heat the broth in my big soup pot. This time I had leftover beef broth from making Hachis Parmentier a few weeks ago. So, I defrosted and used that mixed with chicken broth. I let this cook with the bouquet garni for the last 15-20 minutes of the onion cooking time. When the onions turn that perfect shade of brown and are so sweet they can be mistaken for candy, you are ready to deglaze the pan with the wine and balsamic taking care to scrap up all those bits of fabulous. Then I throw the onion mixture in with the broth and let it all meld together for maybe 30 minutes (if we can wait that long).
And then, the best part. The soup gets ladled into the bowls. The slices of bread which have been lightly toasted are set afloat on top of the soup and it all gets covered in a mixture of the cheeses. It takes about 3-5 min under the broiler to get the cheese slightly brown and totally melty. Not much better than this! Except maybe mulligatawny soup- my all time favorite.