Gay Cook’s French Onion Soup

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Serves 4 – 5


This traditional French onion soup is a favourite any time of the year but especially the comfort it brings on a cold winter day to warm you from your toes to your nose. The secret is the slow cooking of the onions that creates the delicious taste.

2 tablespoons (25 mL) butter and 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
3 – 4 large, peeled onions, sliced in ¼-inch (1 cm) thick slices
3 (45 mL) unbleached flour
4 cups (1 L)) beef, chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoons (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
1½ cups (375 mL) red or white wine
or 330 mL bottle dark ale or beer
2 teaspoons (10 mL) dried thyme
1 stem of fresh rosemary – optional
Season with salt to taste
1/4 baguette or Country-Style loaf, sliced 3/4-inch (4 cm) thick,
1 – 2 tablespoon (15 – 25 mL) melted butter or olive oil to brush slices
6 earthenware or oven-proof soup bowls
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) grated Swiss (Gruyère) cheese

1. In heavy saucepan, melt butter with oil on medium-low heat. Add onions and cover for 8 – 10 minutes until onions are wilted, stirring several times, about 6 minutes. Uncover and raise heat to medium-high and continue to cook 30 minutes stirring frequently until onions are rich brown. Stir in flour then add stock, balsamic, wine or ale, thyme and rosemary if using and gently simmer uncovered for 30 – 45 minutes (never boil) and onions are very soft. Remove rosemary if using. Season to taste with salt.
2. Meanwhile cut the bread slices if needed, so slices fit neatly on top of the soup in the bowls. Toast bread slices or bake in the oven golden and crisp. Brush with melted butter.
3. To serve, preheat oven broiler and preheat soup bowls with boiling water then empty. Ladle hot soup into the hot bowls. Top each bowl soup with toasted bread. Place grated cheese thickly on the toast. Place bowls under the broiler until cheese is bubbly about 4 minutes. Serve hot.

Photo: © Gay Cook 2011