French Onion Soup

I remember my dad languishing over Julia Child’s Soup de l’oignon when I was little and I loved it. I couldn’t have cared less about those onions and beef broth underneath. It was the cheesy, brûléed lid that drew me to the table. Since then, I have taken over the mantle of finding an onion soup that could be easily prepared but that still had the depth of flavor of Ms. Child’s recipe, and most importantly that gooey, cheesy, crunchy topping. At last, I have found it. This soup is the perfect cure if you feel a cold coming on and it is simple, yet impressive if company happens to visit. This recipe is inspired by Julia, Ina Garten, random recipes I have attempted over the years, and most importantly my dad. This is a recipe full of French flair with a salty gruyere and melty fontina blanket atop a crusty slice of baguette all laying upon a caramelized fennel-onion base. It also includes a wide variety of alcohol; if you don’t have one of the type’s listed, just up the other two to ½ cup each. If you prefer, you could absolutely leave it out altogether, but it does add great depth of flavor. Bon Appetit!

French Onion Soup

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 Fennel bulbs
  • 4 large Spanish onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 1/3 dry white wine
  • 48 oz. carton beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Baguette
  • 8 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Slice the ends off the onions, remove the skin, and slice in half. Remove the core from the fennel and cut off the top stems and fronds. In a food processor with the slicer attachment set to about ¼ inch wide, slice the onions and fennel. You can slice everything by hand, but I highly recommend using a food processor. It simplifies the process and opens this recipe up to be a weeknight dinner option- and hopefully, it prevents a lot of tears. 
  2. In a large stockpot, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel and onions and cook for 45 minutes until they are caramelized. If they are browning too quickly, turn down the heat to medium. 
  3. Add garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, and thyme and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sherry, cognac, and white wine and cook for 5 minutes. Add beef broth and bay leaves and cook on med-high for 20 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat the broiler on medium. Slice the baguette and place on a baking sheet. Brush both sides of the baguette with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the bread slices are golden brown and crusty. Mix together gruyere and fontina in a small bowl. 
  5. Scoop out 2 ladles of soup into ramekins, top each with 2-3 slices of baguette and 1/3 cup cheese. Broil until the cheese melts and becomes slightly golden. Keep an eye on it. It has potential to burn quickly. 

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