I don't know about you, but with all the things that needed to be done in preparation for Christmas, during Christmas celebrations, and for post-Christmas cleanup...I am so ready for something easy in the kitchen. A tasty soup of caramelized onions, broth, french bread and melted cheese? Sign me up.
This soup is pretty simple and it's made of mostly pantry staples. Easy peasy! We got the recipe from Pete's mom; his parents first had this soup at a restaurant called La Cuisine in 1977 and included the recipe in the family cookbook they gifted to him for Christmas in 2007...30 years later! The cheesy, savory goodness stands the test of time.
Before I get into the recipe...I have to tell you about the very first time I tried to make French Onion Soup. It was in the Creative Foods class I took senior year of high school, and I say "tried to make" instead of "made" because there were some serious issues with that particular experience.
First off, my teacher didn't have beef broth, so she had us use chicken bouillon....yeah. Second, she didn't have Swiss or Gruyère or any other type of cheese that is commonly served with French Onion Soup. Instead, she had some kind of pre-shredded cheddar jack cheese blend...okayyy. And now that I think about it, I'm almost positive that there was no form of bread/croutons/etc. in it whatsoever. I'm all for putting your own spin on a recipe, but this was straight up unrecognizable. It ended up being a weird neon yellow liquid swimming with pieces of onion and non-melted cheese shreds. Gross. (It's too bad I don't have a picture of that mess, but hi - that was like 10 years ago before everyone and their grandma had camera phones. So I'll just let you imagine how it looked.)
Needless to say - this is SO much better. The onions are tender and delicious, the wine and beef broth add flavor and depth, the bread makes it hearty and filling, and the cheese is this French Onion soup's pièce de résistance (I know, that was kinda cheesy).
Get those ingredients!
Cut the onions in half and thinly slice them. (Ninja skills, activate!)
Heat the oil, add them to your soup pot and cook until golden brown.
Add the spices & wine and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. As always, use wine you would drink! Something else to note...the alcohol will cook off, but using a whole bottle of wine does give it a very pronounced wine flavor. If you don't want it to be quite as winey, you can use less (more to drink!).
Next, add the beef broth and cook uncovered for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, let's prep the bowls! Make sure you use ovenproof bowls because these need to go under the broiler for a few minutes. Add a handful of bread chunks into each bowl. Some people like to float slices on top but I cut them into little cubes because I love it when things are bite-sized!
We were having it as our main course, so I used about a three inch piece of bread per bowl - use however much you like!
Place your bowls on a baking sheet covered with foil (easy cleanup!) and ladle the soup over the bread chunks.
Evenly divide the cheese among the bowls.
Broil until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown...and you're done!
Super easy. Super delicious. Yummy noises await you!
Serves 4 (as a meal) to 8 (as a starter/side)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 lbs yellow onion , sliced (about 2 large onions)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bottle red wine
- 64 oz beef broth
- 1 loaf french bread (preferably stale), cut into large chunks
- 12 oz Gruyère or Swiss cheese , grated
In a large soup pot, heat oil and add onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown (about 15 minutes). Add bay leaves, thyme and wine, cover and cook for 15 more minutes. Add beef broth, stir and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
Place ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet covered with foil. Add a handful of bread chunks into each bowl, cover with soup and evenly divide the cheese among the tops. Broil until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Per serving as a starter/side (1/8 of recipe): 444 calories, 33g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 1480mg sodium, 34g total carbs, 3g fiber, 6g sugar, 21g protein
Adapted from Francois Sully, La Cuisine