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Saturday, March 21, 2009

French Onion Soup

I didn't want a heavy dinner tonight, so I thought it was a good time to make some french onion soup. I love making this soup because it has a rich flavor and is so easy.

French Onion Soup

2 TBS butter
2 large onions (preferably sweet onions)

1 TBS flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
bouquet garni (thyme, bay, and parsley)
2 - 14 oz. cans beef broth (approx. 4 cups)
3 TBS Madeira
salt & pepper to taste

Slices of Toasted Bread (preferably french baguette)
Shredded Gruyere cheese

Slice onions fairly thinly. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat, add onions and stir to coat evenly. Cook over medium-high heat until onions begin to soften and brown. Turn heat down to medium as necessary to prevent burning. Cook 15-30 minutes until onions are well browned and caramelized. How browned you let the onions get depends on how patient you are. I wouldn't proceed until they are at least at far along as what you see in this picture.

Add flour and stir to coat. Cook for a minute and then add wine to deglaze the pan. Add broth and bouquet garni. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove bouquet garni, add Madeira, and let cook 2 minutes more.

To serve, ladle into bowls, place slices of toast floating on soup, cover with shredded cheese. Place under broiler until bubbly and browned. Enjoy!

Notes: A bouquet garni is simply a bundle or pouch of herbs. In the summer, when I have fresh herbs, I simply tie them together with kitchen twine. This time of year, I use a linen bag with a pull tie (sold as bouquet garni bags in some specialty shops). Madeira is a fortified wine that is available for a reasonable price at the liquor store and some supermarkets. Don't be concerned about having to buy a whole bottle just for this recipe, Madeira is a great cooking wine and you'll be glad to have it around. As far as the cheese goes, there are a lot of cheeses that work well for garnishing this soup, Gruyere (a type of Swiss) is my favorite, but regular Swiss, mozzarella and provolone are also superb. This recipe makes 4 small bowls of soup or two large bowls.

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