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French Onion Soup

I was twelve and in Paris with my parents when I first had French onion soup. We stayed in a small hotel in the 7th arrondissement near the Eiffel Tower, and my mom bought me a pair of beige corduroys, a brown blazer, and brown lace-up suede shoes. I felt like a Parisian.

One night we went to a tiny restaurant that served only two things: onion soup and beef entrecôte. The onion soup was the best thing I had ever tasted—sweet caramelized onions, a hearty broth, and Gruyère cheese.

If you make onion soup with single slices of bread, they sink and get soggy, but toasted cubes stay on top and keep crispy. I add a small red onion for additional sweetness, and some white wine for a little acidity.

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups beef stock
  •   Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 thick slices brioche or white bread
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyère

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until they are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.

2. Stir in the flour and the wine. Stir in the stock, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat the oven to broil on high, with a rack in the upper third.

4. Cube the bread, place on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven until golden, about 2 minutes, tossing once.

5. Pour the soup into four ovenproof bowls, top with the bread, and cover with the cheese.

6. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

7. Serve steaming hot.

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