Pioneer Woman's French Onion Soup

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Most of the country has been dealing with record-setting, bitter cold.  It's cold here, too, and perfect soup weather.  Just like how rain boots make a rainy day brighter, so soup is for me on a cold day.  There's just nothing better.  I love soup so much, that I get aggravated when it gets warm in winter months.  It takes away from soup glory.  Is anyone else getting the idea that maybe I think about these things too much?

Anyway, French Onion Soup is a classic, made very popular by Julia Child and restaurant chefs everywhere.  That means that it got this way by being awesome, and has since been made in homes and restaurants with great pleasure and success, and at times had culinary heresy committed against it by restaurants wanting to have it on their menus and serving something that is barely passable, and a far cry from what it originally was.

By the way, I sometimes ate French Onion Soup but was never really hooked until last January, when Drew took me to Savannah for a late Christmas present.  We ate at Bistro 529 (highly recommend it if you're in Savannah, GA!), and Malcolm Love (our very awesome waiter) told us to order the soup.  Malcolm never steered us wrong.  It was the closest thing to Heaven in a bowl you can get.  Maybe that will be served in Heaven, as the soup course in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, you know, provided there's a soup course.  My point is that this soup recipe is GOOD! 

If you've never had real french onion soup, make this recipe and forget about all the over salted, under-cooked onion varieties that have made you wonder why people order French Onion Soup, apart from the cheesy deliciousness over the top.  It's complex, bright, and warming.  This is another kitchen cred recipe.  Why are all the French-based recipes the ones that seem to come with the most kitchen cred?

Unlike most of the other recipes I've read, PW starts her onions on the stove top, then roasts them in the oven, and then returns them to the stove top for the rest of the preparation.  It's a good way to do things, and the end result was one of the first few dishes I've ever used real wine in that didn't make me gag.  Progress!  To see step by step pictures and directions, I encourage you to visit this post on PW's website.  She's great with photography and step-by-steps.  

by Pioneer Woman

serves 8ish

1 stick Butter
4 large (or 6 medium) Yellow Onions, Halved Root To Tip, And Sliced Thin
1 cup (generous) Dry White Wine
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
4 cups Beef Broth
2 cloves Minced Garlic
 Worcestershire Sauce
 Several Thick Slices Of French Bread Or Baguette
5 ounces, weight (to 7 Ounces) Gruyere Cheese, Grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Place soup pot into the oven with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the onions will brown. Allow onions to cook in the oven for 1 hour, stirring at least once during the cooking process so onions won’t stick and burn.

Remove pot from oven and place back on stove top over medium heat. Stir, scraping off all the brown, flavorful bits. Turn off heat and pour in wine. Turn heat back to medium. Cook wine for five minutes, allowing it to reduce. Add broths, Worcestershire Sauce and minced garlic and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

Butter one side of the bread slices and broil over low heat, allowing bread to brown and become crispy.
When soup is ready, ladle into broiler-proof bowl or ramekin. Place crispy bread on top, and then sprinkle generously with grated cheese. 

Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.

  • I can't remember the type of wine I used- maybe a pinot grigio?  While not all wines do this, the label specified that it was a dry wine with a light flavor.  It worked well here.  The alcohol does cook out, but the wine itself is a unique flavor.  As I said before, it was one of the first times I have used wine in food that I didn't want to gag while eating it.  So take caution.  I would imagine if you don't want to use wine in your cooking, extra chicken broth would work too.
  • My onions required slightly more time to cook, but because some of them started to burn in the oven, I cooked on the stove top.  
  • I used smoked gruyere from Aldi, because of the price.  It didn't melt well.  I don't know if it was the particular block I had, that it was from Aldi, or that it was smoked.  Either way, just buy the original, or something you've had experience with before.  
  • We ate several meals out of this- reheats well.  Just make the bread and cheese as you need it for best results.

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