french onion soup

My dad loves french onion soup. He's absolutely an onion guy. I am absolutely not an onion girl. I think it combines two of his favorite things: onions and cheese. So when I was in the kitchen and making this soup for my grandfather... and he asked me if I was making french onion soup.... I knew I had to make a batch for him.

I've always heard that french onion soup was pretty easy. It has very few ingredients. As a result, it makes the actual cooking more important. Problems are not just solved by adding a spice or lemon juice, its about the fundamentals. Maybe. I don't know.

Overall, this soup got pretty good reviews. While I gave it to him for Christmas, he didn't actually eat it until this week during the blizzard. (Thanks to the vacuum freezer bags!) Here are a few notes:
  • less bread // original recipe called for a piece of toast on the bottom and top of the bowl. According to my dad, this was just too much bread. Just go for the top. 
  • croutons v bread // while we are on bread, I went with croutons instead of a single piece of toast. It was the same amount of bread but I like to think it made the soup easier to eat.
  • more onion // when I asked for critical feedback, there was none.... but when I demanded it, he suggested more onion. This is absolutely a personal taste thing. If you like more onion, just reduce the stock to 4 cups. If you want more broth, go with the 6 cups.
  • freezer safe! // always good to have a new soup that makes it through the freezer well.
Here's how it goes.

Make the Soup
  1. Slice & segment 3 pounds of onions.
  2. Melt together the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot.
  3. Crush and peel the garlic. You don't have to mince it; it will caramelize and turn soft and sweet as it cooks. Caramelize the garlic in the olive oil and butter.
  4. Pour in the onionsand stir around just until the onions are all coated in the olive oil/butter.
  5. Add in the thyme and the bay leaf and let the onions caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  6. Once the onions are caramelized and have cooked down, pour in the stock (about 4-6 cups) and beer. Simmer uncovered for between 1-3 hours.
Assemble!
  1. Cut your bread into small croutons. Roast in the oven with a bit of olive oil until lightly brown and toasty. Pull from the oven and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  2. Preheat your broiler. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the soup.
  3. Arrange your oven-safe individual serving bowls on a baking tray.
  4. Add the soup to the bowls and then make a single layer of croutons on the top. 
  5. Cover the toasty croutons with lots of cheese. Make sure to use a melty one (e.g. gouda or mozzarella).
  6. Broil for a few minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling on top. Garnish with a little fresh thyme, and serve.
Shopping List
3 pounds onions
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 generous pinch of salt
a few good grinds of black pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4-6 cups beef stock
2 cups beer
Sourdough Bread
1/2 cup EACH of gouda, gruyere, parmesan & pecorino

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