This classic is one of my favorite dishes to have when the weather turns cold. But it's often a disappointment– overly salty broth and undercooked onions and rubbery cheese. Like most rustic French dishes, the dish celebrates humble ingredients but makes them truly sing with a lot of care and a lot of time.
It is very unlike me to ever take any shortcuts, especially when it comes to something that involves stocks and broths. But this recipe is something you can make in a little over an hour which really beats making this soup from homemade beef stock– practically a day long undertaking. And the results were delicious but more importantly you can enjoy them immediately, which nowadays is key for me.
The recipe still requires some patience in caramelizing the onions but doesn't need much babysitting, just a stir of the pot here and there. All those brown caramelized bits that develop on the bottom of the pan are a good thing, so don't worry about needing to pay close attention to your onions.
– 2 tbsps of unsalted butter
– 5 medium red onions, sliced thin
– 5 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
– 2 cups of low-sodium beef broth
– 1/4 cup of dry red wine
– 2 springs of parsley
– 2 springs of fresh thyme
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
– kosher or sea salt
– freshly ground black pepper
– 1 baguette, sliced 1/3 inch thick
– Swiss cheese, sliced
– Aged gruyere, grated
* Use whatever cheeses you prefer, Asiago instead of Gruyere. The combination of Swiss and aged Gruyere is a perfect mixture of stringy cheese and nutty and sweet Gruyere.
Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or thick bottom pot and add the onions. Add a pinch of salt and stir to incorporate. Place a lid over the onions so they start to sweat. After about 5-10 minutes remove the lid and continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally.
Cook for another 30 minutes until the onions become deep brown and caramelized. Let the brown bits develop on the bottom of the pan.
Add the chicken and beef stock, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer and cook for another 20 minutes. Throw away the herbs and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Turn the broiler on and ladle the soup into bowls. Place two slices of bread on top and a slice of Swiss cheese on top. Add the grated Gruyere cheese on top. This creates a nutty surface and the Swiss underneath gives the soup its melty gooey goodness.
Place the bowls on a tray and place them under a broiler for about 10 minutes or until the top becomes nice and lightly browned.
(Recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe)