Martha’s French Onion Soup

OnionSoupB&DbfLOWe were invited North o’ the border again for Christmas Day – this time to Bob and Don’s.

Tho’ they originally invited us for dinner – a standing rib roast and garlic smashed potatoes with goat cheese; they added the enticement of home made French Onion Soup if we cared to get our act together in time to join them for lunch as well.

We tried.

Unfortunately, our collective act could not be gathered together quickly enough to arrive in New Berlin for noon, so we sadly texted that we couldn’t be there until 1:00 or so, and to please go ahead without us.

I don’t know if it was a Christmas Miracle, or our truly gracious hosts, but lunch was held until we made it over the border and well past Racine. I suspect it may have helped that they had made soup for SIXTEEN in their trusty red Dutch Oven ‘Martha’.

Bob and Don gave us the recipe for this soup – which came with the Dutch Oven they bought from a store that we really liked a LOT better when its signature color was green – but that’s a tale for another day…

Thinking that onion soup for sixteen may be a touch heavy handed – even for onion soup loving folk – I went to da Google and found a close approximation from Martha Stewart that serves six, added in the interesting bits from B&D’s version, and then an extra touch or two that happened to match my old faithful recipe.

I would stress that, while this soup is good fresh from the pot when it’s done; a little patience is rewarded by a bowl of steaming onion goodness that is reason enough to cheer a cold and snowy day.

•4 tbsp butter
•2 lb yellow onions, sliced 1/4-inch into half circles
•1 tsp sugar
•1 tbsp flour
•1/2 cup dry sherry or dry white wine
•2 tbsp cognac
•3 cups beef stock – B&D’s recipe called for low sodium ‘good’ store bought stock. We REALLY prefer the Kitchen Basics brand stock, and I have been known to substitute chicken, or even veggie stock, depending on my mood and pantry, when I feel the need for onion soup
•2 tsp chopped fresh or 3/4 tsp dried thyme
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•1 small French baguette, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
•8 ounces Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated – about 3 cups – I wouldn’t say no to a nice, ermm, aromatic bit o’ Provolone for this, either

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot on medium-low heat. Add onions. Spread them out in as thin a layer as possible. Sprinkle with sugar, and cook, stirring just as needed to keep onions from sticking, until they are melting and soft, golden brown, and beginning to caramelize, about 1 hour.

Sprinkle flour over onions, and stir to coat. Add sherry or wine, stock, cognac and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This would be a nice time to invoke your patience, sit back, have a glass of the cognac for yourself, let the soup cool; and then reheat it the next day and continue. If you can work it so this happens, you will not be sorry.

Meanwhile, lightly toast bread under a broiler; set aside. Ladle hot soup into six ovenproof bowls. Arrange the bowls on a baking pan. Place 1 or 2 slices of toasted bread over each bowl of soup. Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated cheese over bread in each bowl, and place under the broiler until cheese is melted and crusty brown around the edges. Watch carefully that bread doesn’t burn.

Serve immediately.

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