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Saturday, 21 January 2012

French Onion Soup

Winter is finally upon us in Toronto and with temperatures plunging to -27C with windchill I have been craving dishes that help warm me up from the inside out.  When my sister and I were younger, after playing in the snow or being forced into shovelling the driveway we would come into the house and have some French Onion soup out of little brown crock bowls to warm up. The French Onion soup we were eating was heated from frozen and was from M&M meat shops, and, up until now this has been my only interaction with French Onion soup. I have now realized how simple this soup is to make from scratch, and other than a bit of time to caramelize the onions this recipe comes together quickly and beats anything from the frozen food aisle!

Serves 4 (meal sized portions)

1 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2  large, red onions, sliced
5 sprigs of thyme, divided
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Port wine
1/4 cup red wine or cooking wine
1 can beef broth
2 1/2 cup water
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
black pepper to taste
1/2 cup Gruyere, grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole
4 slices of a baguette or fresh bread,sliced 1/2" thick
4 slices Swiss cheese

In a large skillet with a lid heat oil over medium heat and add onions, 4 sprigs of thyme and salt. Cooking stirring often for 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low and cover.  Cook onions until soft and caramelized, about 30-40 minutes, stirring every so often.

Once onions soft and caramelized turn heat to high and add Port and wine, cook for 2 minutes.  Next add broth, water, soy and Worcestershire simmer partially covered for 15-20 minutes.  

While the soup is simmering, turn broiler to high heat, and grate the Gruyere and set aside.

On a baking sheet place slices of baguette and broil each side until nicely toasted.  Once baguette is toasted, rub each slide with the clove of garlic, then place one slice of Swiss cheese a top of each slice of bread.

Dissolve cornstarch in 1 tbsp of water, and stir into soup.  Let soup simmer another 3-4 minutes.

Just before you are ready to serve soup, place bread with Swiss under broiler and broil until cheese melts and is bubbling.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with leaves from remaining sprig of thyme. 

Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with grated Gruyere, and finish by place a piece of toasted, cheesy bread into the centre of bowl.  Serve.

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