I recently gifted myself a dutch oven. After seeing so many awesome recipes that can be made in one, I decided it was time. I had my husband do all the research on the various brands, their reviews, the price points, etc., etc., and then I made the purchase. I knew exactly what my first recipe was going to be.....French Onion Soup. I had saved the recipe from America's Test Kitchen and couldn't wait to give it a try!
Man, oh Man! It did not disappoint. I had some family over and everyone loved it. I think I was making groaning noises as I was eating it. It was that good.
There are several steps, but the majority of the work is done in the oven, so it really wasn't all that bad.
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onion (about 4 pounds) halved and cut pole to pole 1/4" thick pieces
2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
½ cup dry sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Swanson chicken stock)
2 cups beef broth (Rachael Ray Stock-in-a-box made by Colavita)*
6 springs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
ground black pepper
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
8 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese (about 2 ½ cups)
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray inside of (at least 7 quart) Dutch oven with non-stick spray. Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 tsp salt. Cook, covered 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1.5 - 1.75 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6-8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions). Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6-8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2-3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges.
To serve: Adjust oven rack six inches brom broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups of soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyere. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, 3-5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
*I was unable to find the recommended beef stock, I used the Swanson brand.
-Sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, will make this recipe overly sweet
- Be patient when caramelizing the onions in step 2; the entire process takes 45-60 minutes
-If you don't have broiler safe crocks, sprinkle the toasted bread slices with Gruyere and return them to the broiler until the cheese melts and float them on top of the soup
-For the best flavor, make the soup a day or two in advance. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step one, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe
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