The new year started with a bit of a food funk for me. My schedule has been busy and not as focused on my cooking as much as I would like – really as much as I NEED. How to break a food funk? Cook something that is a bit decadent, something that warms you inside and out.
The definition of gratin is: “a dish with a light browned crust of breadcrumbs or melted cheese”. You say gratin and my brain says YES! Is there a better combo than breadcrumbs and cheese, especially Gruyere cheese? Not too many in my book. So soup and bread and cheese all resonated to break the food funk and indulge a bit.
An important point to consider when making French Onion Gratin Soup is whether your bowls or crocks are oven-worthy. I have some older ones from Pier 1 Imports that I use and I have seen some at Sur La Table as well. They are not in the oven long, but no cracking allowed – it might waste some of this delicious soup!
The recipe comes from an old Gourmet magazine from about 10 years ago or more. I still have the page from the magazine in my recipe binder and it works quite well. The only addition? Perhaps a bit more cheese here and there but I will leave that to your judgement. You can also use whatever cheese floats your barguette – Comte, Emmentaler, a sharp Provolone, even a rich Swiss will all do the trick!
Tell me – what breaks your food funk?
- 2 pounds medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise (I use my mandoline)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette (I prefer the harder crust)
- 1/2 pound (plus) Gruyère Cheese
- 2 – 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cook onions, thyme, bay leaf, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.
Remove croûtes from oven and preheat broiler. Put crocks in a shallow baking pan.
Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a croûte in each. Slice enough Gruyère with cheese plane or grater to cover tops of crocks, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Increase oven to Broil and place crocks about 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.