Some years ago, I visited Paris, ate a delicious version of the soup, and vowed to reproduce it when I arrived back home. Unfortunately, procrastination won. I didn’t have the right bowls. I couldn’t find the right cheese. The camera was out of battery. You know how it goes.
When I finally created the courage to make it (and let go of some details), I realized it was quite easy – all it really takes is patience. I basically followed Julia Child‘s recipe (and in this wonderful video, she also teaches how to sharpen knives! <3), but then I procrastinated again, and it took me over a month to write this recipe! 😀
For six “civilized-people” portions (a.k.a., Sky and I ate well over half for dinner), you will need:
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tbsp butter – I totally eyeballed that.
1 Tbsp olive oil – yep, I eyeballed that one too.
1 tsp salt – this I measured! 😀
3 Tbsp flour
2 L beef stock – Deb suggests mushroom stock for a vegetarian version
1 cup white wine – in the video, she uses red wine, but most recipes I have read call for white wine, so that’s what I did.
3 Tbsp cognac – I skipped it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
To serve (technically, this is optional, but it really isn’t):
6 ovenproof bowls
6 slices of bread – I used large slices of Italian bread, but next time I’ll use baguette slices, as it will be easier to eat… 😀
1-2 cups of coarsely shredded gruyère – as I don’t really like gruyère, I used an Uruguayan cheese that melts easily (colonia) and parmesan. And yes, I used plenty!
Start by slicing the onions as thinly as you can. Here, I needed about six medium-sized onions to get five cups. In a big, thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter and the olive oil. Place the onions, and toss to coat them in oil. On the lowest heat, cover the pan and let the onions cook for about 15 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn up the heat a little bit, and add the salt. The original recipe also called for a pinch of sugar, but I totally forgot about it. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, until all the onions are brown − don’t be lazy about it: that caramelization is what is going to make your soup tasty! Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and stir for about three minutes. Add the wine and the stock slowly, stirring continuously (and don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan!)
Season with pepper and salt (unless you’re using salted stock). I resisted the urge to add paprika! Simmer over medium heat, cover the pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re using cognac, now is time to add it.
You can serve as it is and it will be great, but really, the best thing to do is broil it! Toast the bread slices and then butter them – once in hell, hug the devil! Divide the soup into six ovenproof bowls. In each of them, add one piece of toast (again, next time I’ll use a baguette; the smaller slices will be easier to handle!) and cover the bowl with a generous layer of cheese.
Bake the soups on a tray for about 20 minutes − I used the toaster oven, with heat coming from top and bottom, but you can be normal and just use your broiler to make it nice and golden. Dig in!