Bubbly cheese spilling over the sides of your bowl. Sweet, soft onions in a dark and rich broth. It’s French onion soup, of course.
We threw in an extra pound of onions because two didn’t seem like enough. You could probably add a bit more. I like my onion soup a bit heavy on the onions.
Those sprigs of rosemary and thyme hang out in the pot for a while, and most of those herbs fall off and into the soup. I like that. If you don’t, you could wrap the sprigs (and bay leaves) in a cheese cloth, tie it, and remove the whole bunch later.
Give the onions time to brown. The original recipe said to give them 45 minutes, but it’s not enough. At that point, a few onions have only begun to start browning.
Don’t rush. Turn on a movie you’ve already seen a few times and relax, getting up just to stir the onions every once in a while. Or finish reading that Hunger Games book.
Open that bottle of wine now. You only have to save less than a cup for the soup.
Adding red wine to this soup makes the broth darker, richer, and more flavorful. The onions turn a bit purple, too.
I love using a spoon to break through the thick cheese layer and scoop out a mix of onions, melted cheese, and a piece of bread soaked in broth. The perfect bite!
We went with a rosemary and sea salt sourdough loaf for this soup. So delicious. But any crusty bread will do.
french onion soup
serves 4 in 13-oz. ramekins, adapted from Gourmet via epicurious
- 3 pounds medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus another for garnish
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon. Herbes de Provence, a French spice blend of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 (1-inch thick) slices of crusty bread
- 1/2 pound Gruyère
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cook onions, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt, and butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. After 45 minutes or an hour, you can turn down the heat just a bit.
Then, add flour and Herbes de Provence, and stir for 1 minute. Add wine and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, sherry, and pepper. Let everything simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 350°F.
Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.
Remove toasted bread from oven and turn on broiler. Put the ramekins for your soup on a baking sheet.
Remove the bay leaves and sprigs of rosemary and thyme from the soup and discard. Divide soup among ramekins, then float a piece of toast in each. Slice enough Gruyère (about 6 ounces total) to cover tops of ramekins, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 1 to 3 minutes.
Garnish soup with fresh thyme and serve.