To make this soup really taste authentic, you need to caramelize the onions. The flavour that develops through the caramelization process gives the base for a really good soup. I happened to have a variety of onions from my farm share. But you want to make sure you use sweet onions. They will caramelize easier than standard cooking onions.
To avoid time in the kitchen stirring the onions, I decided to use my slow cooker. It took about 4 hours for the onions to caramelize on high and around 8 hours on low. Just a word of warning, if you do use your slow cooker for this, your house will smell like cooked onions.
My kids didn't mind this recipe even though they aren't big onion fans. I think they were more impressed with the bowls and the melted cheese on top which if memory serves me correctly was what I loved best about this soup as a kid too.
French Onion Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1-8 hours depending on cooking method
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
- 3 onions finely sliced horizontally
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 spring thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 8 cups beef soup stock
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 6-8 slices of day old bread
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups shredder gruyere cheese
To caramelize the onions - I used my slow cooker. I placed the onions, butter, thyme, bay leaf and salt and pepper in my slow cooker and allowed onions to cook for 4 hours on low. Alternately you could use the stove top method. Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat, add onions and spices. Cook until onions become soft and caramel in colour.
Once onions have caramelized, remove bay leaf and thyme sprig. Add stock and Worcestershire sauce. Increase heat and bring soup to a simmer.
Meanwhile, break the bread into bite sized pieces toss in olive oil. Lay in single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Toast in over preheated to 375 until light brown and toasted throughout. Remove from oven.
Ladle soup into oven safe bowls. Top with toasted bread and sprinkle with cheese. Set bowls on cookie sheet and broil until cheese has melted.
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