Warm comforting brothy soup with roots dating back to Roman times, when it was considered the poor man's soup. The French add a little here, a little there and everything tastes better. Today, classy French soup to please even picky appetites.
Yields: 6-8 Servings
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups sliced yellow onions (about 3-4 lbs)
1 teaspoon salt
½-1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup apple cider, unfiltered preferred
8 cups beef broth
Sprig fresh thyme
1 loaf French bread (may substitute croutons*)
Butter for bread
3 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
NOTE: There is a quick version in the note section. This method is a little more classic, but takes longer.
Melt butter over medium heat in dutch oven or large pot; add sliced onions. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook about 20-30 minutes or until onions are wilted and translucent. Remove lid, increase heat to medium, sprinkle with salt and sugar; continue to cook, stirring as needed, until onions are thoroughly browned and caramelized (about 20-30 minutes).
Pour apple cider and continue to cook until most of the cider has evaporated, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Add broth, thyme and bay leaf, reduce heat and simmer about 10-30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove sprig of thyme and the bay leaf. At this point soup may be cooled and refrigerated for later use. To use, reheat and following one of the options below to complete.
* Pre-toasted croutons or crostini may be substituted for this step. While soup is simmering, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice French bread into thick slices Lightly butter both sides, place on a baking sheet and toast 15 minutes, turn and toast opposite side for additional 15 minutes.
Two options to finish the recipe.
Option 1 - Family Style. Place toasted french bread on the top of the soup. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and place in the middle of the oven, under broiler, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
Option 2 - Individual Style. Ladle soup into individual oven/broiler proof bowls; place bowls on a baking sheet. Top each bowl with a slice of toasted French bread. Place bowls in middle of the over, under the broiler, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
The slow cooking of this recipe creates a deeper more flavorful soup. For speed, try the Quicker method below.
Quick Cooking Alternative:
Use this method of preparing French Onion Soup when you prefer more speed. Use caution not to burn onions and develop a bitter taste.
Increase butter to ½-cup. Melt butter in large pot; add onions, salt, and sugar; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until caramelized (about 25-30 minutes). Add cider, and cook until cider is mostly evaporated. Add broth, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store until ready to use as directed above.
Place sliced French Bread on baking sheet, top with shredded cheese and broil until cheese is melted and golden brown. Ladle hot onion soup into individual bowls and top with a slice of toasted cheese and bread.