I first made this soup Christmas of 2009. We had just returned from a cruise to the Western Caribbean and had only a little over a week to get ready for the holidays and plan for the six people we had invited to dinner on Christmas Day. Over the years it had become my custom to work, work, and work on last-minute holiday preparations on Christmas Eve and then go out for dinner. Why? One I did not want to have to cook dinner on Christmas Eve and I always felt a need to get out of the kitchen, if only for a little while to regain my strength. Going out for dinner usually meant a trip to a fast food restaurant.
However, that year I decided that I really did not want to give up even a few minutes to go out of the house. At the time my daughters and I were engaged in a Tyler’s Ultimate cooking project so I looked through his cookbook and my eyes fell on his recipe for onion soup. Recipe found! The recipe met all the criteria I had laid out, at least the warm and easy to make part. The good was yet to be discovered.
The first thing I liked about this recipe was that it really was easy. All the ingredients were either already in my pantry, refrigerator or could be easily gotten at the local grocery store. I was able to fit in the cooking of the soup while also baking three different kinds of cookies, pumpkin bread, roasting a turkey, decorating the house and setting the dinner table for Christmas dinner.
Tyler’s French onion soup was great! It is hardy and with the addition of the wine had an interesting flavor I found very pleasing. The Gruyère cheese added a nice touch to the croutons. I used some croutons in the soup and made additional ones to drunk into the soup. Wonderful!!
I used this recipe as a main dish but would, of course, also use it as a first course for a dinner party. I am so glad I chose this recipe for my Christmas Eve break. It was delicious, warm and after eating I felt relaxed and invigorated all at the same time. I was able to continue on for the rest of the evening getting all my chores done so I could get a much-needed rest before my dinner guests arrived on Christmas day.
I have made this recipe many times since then and still enjoy it.
The Ultimate French Onion Soup:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons (½ stick) softened
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 fresh thyme springs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
½ pound grated Gruyère cheese
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium-low so the flour does not burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When you are ready to eat, pre-heat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer and brush with the softened butter. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyère and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Ladle the soup into bowls and float some of the Gruyère croutons on top. Garnish with chives.
(Portions of this blog first appeared on my Facebook page December of 2009).