Seriously, though, this is quite possibly my favorite recipe to make. I do enjoy cooking, but the majority of what I do in the kitchen could still be filed under “chopping and combining.” To truly cook; to transform bare ingredients into something sublime is not a day-to-day occurrence for me. Caramelizing the onions takes patience, slowing you down for a minute to simply spy on a pot of butter and onions.
How are you doing in there, guys? I’m not worrying about anything else in my life right now because we have a goal. But, we’re not in a hurry to get there, are we? Nope, we’re gonna take our sweet time. When you do get caramelized, I’ve got a surprise for you! A white wine bath, that’s what, and I saved a good bottle for you!
In addition to talking with onions, this recipe is actually geared towards lazy people like me. Once you get the onions where you want them, add in the liquid and simmer for another hour and a half. Et voila! Top with bread and cheese and you can be damn happy with yourself for the next week.
Better yet, delay your satisfaction and serve it the next day after the flavor develops a bit more. Serve it to your friends. Invite strangers in for a bowl. Serve it to republicans for all I care. Everyone in the world is entitled to the bare necessities and I think this qualifies. I’m all out of hyperbolae, so I’ll give you the recipe now.
Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée
(adapted from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook)
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ½ - 3 lbs white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
8 cups beef broth, preferably homemade or quality store-bought stock
1 cup dry white wine, such as Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc
¼ cup Cognac or good brandy
Thick slices of baguette, toasted
1 – 1 ½ cups grated gruyère cheese
In a heavy dutch oven, melt butter and oil over medium low heat. Add onions and stir to coat with the butter. Cover and cook over low heat until translucent and wilted, around 10-15 minutes. Remove the cover and
turn heat up to medium high. Add the salt and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally while onions begin to brown. Once onions start to brown, they will go fast, so stir more frequently to keep them from burning. Cook until onions are caramelized, a deep brown color, about 30-40 minutes.
Sprinkle flour over onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Pour in 2-3 cups of beef broth, stirring constantly to incorporate the flour. Add the rest of the broth, cognac and white wine. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 1 ½ hours with a loose lid, adding a little water if liquid is evaporating too quickly. Stir occasionally.
Pour soup into oven-safe bowls. Place toasted bread slices on the soup and top with a large handful of cheese to completely cover the bread. The broth itself is quite rich and it's the contrast with the cheese that makes this meal interesting, so use a stongly flavored cheese. Place bowls on a baking sheet and broil until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, with some good, cheap red wine and maybe another entrée like half an avocado stuffed with crab or chicken salad, or an endive, walnut and roquefort salad. Serves 4-6.