French Onion Soup is one of my all-time favorite dishes. When it comes to soup, there’s just about no equal. Of course, the one absolute requirement is plenty of good cheese on top. None of this little dollop stuff. This is a slow cooker recipe, but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of caramelizing the onions first. You can simply throw all of the ingredients into a slow cooker without this step, but it’s a much richer soup when you caramelize.
For the stock, I’m calling for a ready-made beef stock. However, if you make your own beef broth, there’s no comparison. At some point, I will put my recipe for beef broth on this blog, but I haven’t used it for a while and want to tweak it a bit first. So, without further comment, here’s the recipe.
6 tbsp butter
3 large Vidalia onions
1 large Bermuda (red) onion
2 medium shallots
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 leek stalk
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Demerara sugar (white sugar is okay here if you don’t have this)
1/2 cup dry sherry
7 cups beef broth
1 tsp sea salt (I used Red Himalayan last time around)
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp Herbes de Provence (there are varieties of this; use the one that includes Lavender)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Baby Swiss or Emmental cheese
French Bread slices
The first step is to cut the onions into rings and to rough chop the shallots. When cutting the leek, toss the very white part at the bottom, but cut the base into rings and then cut the green stalk into rough 1″ pieces. Make sure you wash the leek well because they tend to harbor dirt.
Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onions/shallots/leeks and cook until they are translucent (about 10 minutes). Then, add the Demerara sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 minutes. Within the last two minutes, add the garlic and cook for about a minute, then add the sherry and scrape the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the mega-onion mixture to a slow cooker, add the broth, thyme, Herbes de Provence, pepper and salt (add more salt to taste if need be; this is a conservative amount). Cover the slow cooker, set it on high and cook for about 4-6 hours. If cooking on low, it’s about 6-8 hours. The timing is a personal call, but I prefer the “high” setting.
Slice the French bread into 1″ pieces and toast in a toaster oven. Spoon the soup into onion soup bowls, float the toasted French bread in the middle and completely cover with cheese. You can either put your oven on broil and broil the cheese until it bubbles or put it in the microwave. Top with chopped chives (optional for you, but not for me).
This recipe will serve about eight people. If you’re not feeding eight, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days and eat it again. I did that, and then I froze one container for later. Is it better fresh? Probably. But who’s quibbling over such a delicious dish? Not I.