Our family loves to cook together. It is utter chaos and utterly wonderful. I am in Minnesota this week hangin' with the fam and cooking like crazy. My mama and I decided to make french onion soup because it'd be a quick and easy meal for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Ha. Ha. Ha. Quick and easy should never ever be in our vocabulary when we sit down to plan a meal together because it never ever happens. But who cares, we have so much fun cooking together perhaps we sub-consciously do this on purpose.
This mama, Kat, taught me how to cook. Its how we originally connected one fateful Thanksgiving. Its how we've connected ever since.
If I may digress from the soup for a moment, I'll share this story because its the beginning of our history, of our love and one we've laughed about since. My dad invited Kat over for her first holiday with us when I was 14. Their relationship was still pretty new and I was resisting the idea of my dad dating a new woman. Kat was trying her darndest to connect with me all day. Let's keep in mind I was a vegetarian at the time. It came time to move the turkey from the roasting pan to the serving platter and Kat asked me to help her. I am sure she thought this would be a great "team" endeavor. I don't know what got into me, and as much as the idea of touching a turkey turned my stomach inside out, I helped. I plugged my nose, averted my eyes, and grabbed that turkey by the legs! It was moments later that she remembered I was a vegetarian and, mortified, tried to back pedal on her need for my help. Too late, we were forever bound by this turkey movin' moment.
Over the years we have created some spectacular meals together. We call each other for cooking advice, we share recipes, we share ideas and we share our successes and failures alike. We've been planning our Thanksgiving menu over the past few days and we're both excited to spend the day cooking together.
Now, back to the soup. This soup was bad ass. The family descended upon the kitchen on Sunday afternoon and in a great team effort we had this soup on the table in a matter of...um, hours. It was so worth it. This soup had so much flavor. I've had some really amazing french onion soups in my day, but I've had many more that are dull, boring or overly salty. This soup shined above them all.
In this recipe, the onions are braised in white wine and marsala for 45 minutes before they are carmelized in a dutch oven and I think this is what brought out the complex mix of flavors in this soup. Totally worth the extra time and forethought required when preparing this recipe. Maybe not a "lazy" Sunday soup, but a great cozy winter meal indeed!
French Onion Soup
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Makes 6 servings
2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup marsala wine
1 tbsp sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
6 sprigs flat leaf parsley
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups beef broth
2 cups chicken broth
1 parmesan cheese rind
1 baguette, sliced crosswise into 12, 1/2 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups gruyere cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400F. Place onions in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Combine white and marsala wines then stir in sugar. Pour mixture evenly over the onions. Put 8 tbsp butter, in pats, on top of onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place onions in oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir the onions every ten minutes, basting with liquid in the bottom of the pan to coat the onions. When the onions are just beginning to brown transfer the onions to a dutch oven on medium heat, reserving the wine mixture. Put a lid on the dutch oven and stir every 3 minutes until they are a deep caramel color.
Meanwhile, tie together the parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Add herbs, parmesan rind, reserved wine mixture and beef and chicken broths to a large stockpot and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the herbs and parmesan rind.
When the onions have carmelized, add the broth mixture to the onions and simmer for 10 minutes more.
While the soup is simmering, combine remaining 4 tbsp butter and garlic and stir until well combined. Spread butter on both sides of the baguette slices. Cook in a skillet on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until toasted and browned.
Preheat the broiler on high. Arrange 6 oven-safe bowls on a sheet tray and ladle soup into bowls. Place 2 toasted baguette slices in each bowl and then top each with 1/2 cup gruyere and 1/4 cup parmesan. Broil until cheese is brown and bubbly, 3-5 minutes and ...