I happen to love the dramatic weather of the winter months. It forces us all inside, where there are games to be played, fireplaces to be lit and, most importantly (at least in my humble opinion), food to be made and consumed together.
And there is nothing that feels more comforting than a steaming bowl of soup on a blustery, rainy winter night. Here in the great Pacific Northwest, we have plenty of those!
My personal patron saint, Julia Child, once remarked: “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.”
Even during the winter months when there is less of a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, we can create dishes that are satisfying, elegant and deliciously comforting. One of my favorites that checks all these boxes is the traditional French onion soup.
Loved by most everyone, this soup has the rich umami broth that comes from beef stock and caramelized onions paired with the oozy, fatty goodness of the cheese on top. It’s a crowd-pleaser. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
French Onion Soup
Dutch oven or another heavy-bottomed pan
Sturdy oven-safe soup bowls
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 yellow onions (about 3 pounds), peeled and sliced as thinly as you can
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon dry sherry
8 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon black pepper
French bread, cut into 8 to 10 slices, toasted
1 ½ cups grated Gruyère cheese
- Caramelize the onions: Over medium heat, melt your butter in the Dutch oven/heavy pot. Add in your onions and sprinkle a ½ teaspoon salt over the contents, stir to coat onions and cover your pot for five minutes until the onions soften a bit. Remove the lid and let your onions caramelize until golden brown. Be sure to give your onions time (35 to 40 minutes) to properly caramelize and, if you see the onions browning too quickly, turn down the heat. The onions will shrink quite a bit.
- After your onions are caramelized, add the wine and sherry, stir and allow to come to a boil. Quickly sprinkle and mix in your flour and let the mixture cook and thicken for one minute.
- Add in your beef broth, ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Allow the contents to boil uncovered for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn on your oven broiler. After placing the soup bowls on a baking sheet, carefully ladle the soup into each bowl. Top each with a toasted slice of bread and then sprinkle on as much or as little cheese as you please (I prefer A LOT!).
- Keeping a watchful eye on your soup so that it doesn’t burn, broil bowls in the oven for two to three minutes. Serve with a simple green salad and more French bread.