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French Onion Soup

French onion soup can be a little fussy, time-consuming, and tear-inducing, but if you’ve got a few hours on a rainy Sunday, there are few better ways to spend it than in the pursuit of this classic, comforting gratineé. Recipe and photo credits: Basics with Babish Download Recipe PDF


For the Soup

3lbs Spanish onions (yields 4 servings)
6 cups high quality beef stock (or amped up store bought stock, see below)
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup dry sherry
Soy sauce (optional)
Fish sauce (optional)
Day old French baguette (for topping)
Gruyere cheese, shredded (for topping)

For the Amped-up Store Bought Stock

1 bunch parsley
Sliced carrots
Thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 bay leaves
Sprinkle of peppercorns
2 cloves (optional)
Parmesan cheese rind

How To Make

Start by preparing your onions. Peel them and then cut in half from pole to pole – through the root and stem. Remove the tough root part by cutting it away with your knife. Then thinly slice them pole to pole – like cutting with the grain of the onion. This gives the slices more structural integrity so that they stand up to the slow cooking method. Repeat this process with the rest of the onions.
Next prepare your stock. Ideally you would use homemade beef stock, but you can also “soup” up a store bought version. To do that, add your beef broth to a stock pot and bring to a simmer. Add aromatics like parsley, sliced carrots, thyme sprigs, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, and parmesan rind. Let it simmer for 1 hour.
In a large dutch oven drizzle 2-4 Tbsp olive oil and let heat up for one minute. Dump in the sliced onions. It will look like way too many, but just trust me. Slowly caramelize the onions over medium heat. Keep them moving constantly, and scrape down the sides of the pot. The onions are done when they are soft, jammy, and caramelized with a lot of fond on the bottom of the pot. Add 2 Tbsp flour to the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Deglaze the pot with 1 cup of dry sherry and cook, scraping up fond from the bottom of the pot. Once the alcohol is cooked off, add the beef broth. Make sure to strain it first if you added aromatics.
Let the whole thing simmer for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors get to know each other. Optional: add umami boosters. I like to add a splash of fish sauce and soy sauce to richen the flavors.
Cut thick slices of day-old french baguette. Put them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Toast bread in a 400°F oven for 5 minutes.
Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub down each piece of bread with the garlic.
Check the soup for salt and pepper and season as necessary.
Ladle soup into broiler-safe cups. Top with sliced baguette and shredded cheese. Put the bowls onto a baking sheet and put into an oven preheated to broil. Broil for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
Garnish with chives and serve and enjoy!