My take on the classic French onion soup, hailed by some as the best in the world. Adapted from Alton Brown's Good Eats. This soup is traditionally served piping hot in little individual ramekins or soup crocks. You'll need one oven-safe ramekin or crock per diner.
Appetizer or Main
200mldry white wineI use Chardonnay
500mlbeef stockpreferably homemade
25clDry, hard ciderunfiltered is best
1Bouquet garni; a fancy French name for a bunch of thyme sprigs
1splash Cognaca generous one at that
Trim the ends off each onion then cut in halves lengthwise. Remove peel and finely slice into half moon shapes.
Put a cast iron pot over medium heat and add the butter.
Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all the onions are in the pot.
Do not even attempt to stir the onions before they’ve been allowed to sweat down for 15 to 20 minutes.
After onions have sweated down a bit, stir occasionally until they take on a dark mahogany color. This may take as much as two hours and they’ll surrender a lot of water while browning. Just keep stirring infrequently and allow water to evaporate. Do not worry about burning.
Once onions are greatly reduced, sweet and deeply caramelized, add enough wine to cover and turn heat to high, reducing the wine to a syrupy consistency.
Add beef stock, apple cider and the bouquet garni. Reduce heat back down again and simmer at least 15 to 20 minutes, preferably more.
Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and heat broiler.
Slice bread and use oven safe ramekins or soup crocks to punch out round croutons large enough to snugly fit the mouth of the bowls.
Place the croutons on a baking sheet and place under broiler for 1 minute.
Remove bouquet garni from soup mixture and with salt, pepper and cognac to taste.
Allow mixture to boil for a minute or two to take the edge off the Cognac.
Ladle soup into ramekins/crocks leaving a little space at the top.
Place bread round, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese.
Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.