My mother-in-law Kappy Leonard belongs to the Columbia Country Club. Early in Chris's and my courtship (and in fact throughout our life together) she has treated our family to wonderful dinners at the club. Fourteen years ago, she very graciously hosted our prenuptial dinner in a beautiful private dining room.
Chris's daughter Catherine and my daughter Sarah are not just sisters but the best of friends. When the girls were younger and first met, they always ordered French onion soup at the club. This tasty soup still stimulates memories of that time, when they were forming a sisterly and family bond. I think part of the fun of the soup involved their shared tradition of pinching small bits of cheese off each other's bowl of soup!
Recipe from Mr. Sunday’s Soups by Lorraine Wallace and Chris Wallace (Wiley, 2010)TIPS
- -French onion soup is traditionally made with beef broth, but our family prefers the lighter flavor of chicken broth. Feel free to substitute a good homemade or low-sodium beef broth, preferably organic.
- -Substitute 4 large leeks, both the white and light green parts, very thinly sliced, for the yellow onion, if desired.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large red onions, very thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, very thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth, homemade or store-bought
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Six ½-inch-thick slices baguette, preferably slightly stale
- ¾ cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese
Place a large nonstick soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add the oil. Add the red onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and softened, about 15 minutes.
Add the yellow onion and sugar and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onions are brown and caramelized, 30 to 45 minutes. (Don't leave the kitchen during this time; watch the pot carefully so you don't scorch the onions.) Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Stir in the broth, wine, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste and bring to a boil. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Discard the bay leaf. (At this point, you could remove from the heat, cover the pot, and let stand for up to 1 hour. Warm through before serving.) Preheat the broiler to high heat and place the top rack about 6 inches from the heat source.
Ladle the soup into six individual flameproof soup bowls, distributing the onions evenly.
Place 1 slice of bread on top of each bowl and sprinkle with the cheese, dividing it evenly.
Place the soup bowls under the broiler and broil until the cheese is bubbly and browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Let stand for 2 minutes (to prevent burning your tongue) and then serve.