Thursday, September 29, 2011

French Onion Soup Gratinee

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This is by far the best onion soup I have ever had, better than anything you can get, even at the finest restaurants.  It takes about 4 hours to make, start to finish, but is well worth the effort.  I bought my onions at Costco, and they were sweet white onions, extra-large, about the size of a grapefruit.  It gave the soup a sweetness that went beautifully with the dark, rich broth.  I will definitely make this soup again.

10-12 medium white onions, halved and sliced lengthwise (stem-to-pointy end)
3 T unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh thyme, few sprigs, stems removed
6 cups beef and/or chicken broth (or a combination of both)
2 cups water
8 slices stale baguette, sliced in 3/4" rounds
1 lb Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a large Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.  Place butter in the pot with the onions, salt, thyme and bay leaf.  Cook covered in the oven for 1 hour.  Stir and leave the lid slightly ajar, then continue to roast in the oven for another 1-1/2 hours.  Move the Dutch oven to the cooktop, stir frequently until liquid evaporates, 15-20 min.  Reduce heat to medium.  Cook and stir 6-8 min. more.  Add 1/4 cup water and cook over medium heat until the liquid is evaporated and the onions are golden brown 6-8 min.  Repeat, this several times for 30 min. total. Onions will be getting dark brown in color.  Stir often.  Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the caramelized onions.  Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for another 30 min.  Add more salt, if necessary.  Spoon the soup into individual ovenproof crocks, top with a toasted baguette slice, then a layer of cheese.  Broil for 2 min. until cheese is brown and bubbly.