French Onion Soup

This is one of the first things I learned to cook in culinary school. It’s a simple, rustic soup full of basic cooking techniques. You’ll practice knife skills by slicing the onions and perfect your caramelization as you brown them. There’s the nuances of deglazing, knowing when to do it and when it’s time to move on, and the art of the simmer as a flavor-building tool. Use beef stock for a richer broth or a combination of chicken and beef stock to suit your tastes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter
6 medium onions, thinly-sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken or beef stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf, cracked black peppercorns)
1 baguette, sliced 1-inch thick
1 cup shredded Gruyere or other Swiss cheese

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  2. Deglaze the pan with about a 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Once the stock evaporates, deglaze again with another 1/4 cup of stock. Deglaze a third time with the white wine. Reduce heat and cook until the wine is reduced to a glaze, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining chicken stock and the bouquet garni. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into broiler-safe bowls. Top each bowl with a baguette slice and top the bread with grated cheese. Place the bowls on a sheet tray and broil just until cheese melts, bubbles and browns at the edges.

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