French Onion Soup

By Alison Needham

This rich, comforting soup takes the most basic of your garden's ingredients and makes it a superstar. This soup tastes even better the second day, so make it in advance if possible.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours
Yield: serves 4-6 as a first course

Ingredients:

5 pounds of onions, about 6 large
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 quarts good quality beef broth or stock
1 teaspoon of beef bouillon or base, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2-3 tablespoons brandy
4 slices of french bread, toasted (or croutons)
8 slices of Gruyere cheese

Preparation:

1. Peel and slice onions into 1/4 inch rounds. Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted add the onions to the pot and stir to coat.

2. Cook onions for one hour, stirring occasionally, until onions are deep, golden brown. Sprinkle with flour, then gradually add stock while stirring to prevent lumps. Add bouillon if using, thyme and brandy and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Refrigerate overnight.

3. To finish, reheat the soup until simmering on the stove. Adjust oven rack so that it is 6 inches from your broiler. Ladle soup into 4 oven-proof bowls that have been placed on a baking sheet. Top with slices of toasted French bread or croutons and 2 slices of cheese (on each bowl). Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve immediately.

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