The Occasion: This is special occasion food: Romantic dinner – Birthday treat – Anniversary meal – you get the idea. We served this to an intimate group on Christmas Eve. And Valentine’s Day is coming up, just sayin’.
The soup so rich that, to me, all it needs alongside is a simple salad and a nice glass of red wine. But it’s also a fantastic starter (use a smaller portion) to a more lavish meal.
Why This Recipe Works: America’s Test Kitchen, one of my fave cooking shows and cookbook publishers, does extensive research to determine the optimal way to make their recipes, always showing how they arrived at their conclusions. Love that! The most interesting difference I found using the ATK version this time: roast the onions in the oven for nearly 3 hours and THEN continue cooking on the stovetop to complete the caramelization process.
This is neither a fast recipe nor a set-it-and-forget-it situation. It’s going to take some time.
So get your mind right, crank up our What’s Cooking playlist, and have a little fun in your kitchen.
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
Keep a close eye on the final step: broiling the cheese topping. It can change in an instant as I know all too well; I let a couple bowls in my test batch get a little overly-toasted. Still tasty but not so photogenic.
As I noted, this is a special occasion recipe. So bookmark it, print it, save it to your virtual recipe box, whatever it takes to be ready when the perfect occasion comes along when a little delicious decadence is on the menu.
Recipe source: DrGaellon on Food.com sharing America’s Test Kitchen recipe
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
- 6 large yellow onions, halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 4 pounds)
- table salt
- 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
- 1⁄2 cup dry sherry
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups beef broth
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
- 1 bay leaf
- ground black pepper
- 1 small baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 8 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).
- Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
- Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly.
- Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.) Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown.
- Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
- While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Let cool 5 minutes before serving.