Thursday, November 12, 2009

Double Cheese French Onion Soup

One of my favorite cookbooks is the first one I ever got. It was The Southern Living Cookbook and my big sister Jennifer gave it to me when Kris and I moved into our first apartment together after college. I've been making this incredible soup ever since. When we lived in San Francisco, I didn't yet own a dutch oven (I actually remember thinking it was some sort of fancy electronic equipment) and had to saute the onions in two different pans, then combine them all into the biggest one I had. But the soup was worth it.

There's only one way I know of to screw up French Onion Soup and that is not sauteeing the onions long enough. They don't need to get shrunken and caramelized by any means, but they should be thoroughly cooked and soft before you begin adding the liquids. Don't tell yourself they'll 'get there' during the boiling and simmering step. They won't and your soup will be sad for it. So take your time, and if you want to speed things up a little, you can start sauteeing your onions with the top on to make them more submissive.

French Onion Soup with Provolone and Parmesan
Adapted from The Southern Living Cookbook
6-8 servings.

4 large sweet onions, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced into rings
2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon flour
12 oz (1 1/2 cups) low sodium chicken broth
12 oz (1 1/2 cups) low sodium beef broth
2 cups white wine, preferably Chardonnay
fresh cracked black pepper
pinch nutmeg, preferably fresh grated

6-8 slices French bread, toasted
6-8 slices Provolone cheese, or double if you want to go cheese crazy
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Add butter and olive oil to a large dutch oven (large heavy rimmed and lidded pot) and bring to medium heat. Add the onion slices, seasoning well with kosher or sea salt and pepper and saute until the volume of onions has reduced to a third and each and every slice is separated and soft - around 25-30 minutes. Gradually add the broths and wine, stirring with each addition. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the nutmeg and simmer for 15 minutes.

Taste for seasoning, adding any more salt if necessary. Preheat your broiler. Place your oven proof serving bowls on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Then add 1 or 2 pieces of the toasted French bread into the bottom of the bowls. Ladle the soup over the bread, leaving a good half inch at the top free so it doesn't boil over. Place 1 (or 3, if you're my husband) slices of Provolone over the soup, then a hefty pinch of shredded parmesan.

CAREFULLY place the tray of bowls into your oven near the broiler. Watching carefully, broil for about 3 minutes, or just until the cheese melts and forms a golden crust. Remove and let cool at least 5 minutes before serving, using oven mitts to transfer the bowls.

No comments: