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November 11, 2013

You're doing it wrong: French onion soup

(Continued)

In this country, French onion soup is conventionally topped with a slice of bread and copious cheese, and then browned in the oven. The theory behind this is sound — bread and cheese are hearty enough to turn onion soup into a main course — but the traditional execution is flawed. It's an unnecessary struggle to transfer bowls of hot soup into and out of the oven, and the volcanic appearance of cheese dripping down the side of a soup tureen is vulgar. It is much less of a hassle first to melt the cheese on the bread, and then to float the bread on top of the soup.

French Onion Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 2 to 4 hours, partially unattended

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 1/2 pounds yellow onions, sliced

Salt and black pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

6 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable stock

4 fresh thyme sprigs

3 ounces gruyère cheese, grated

4 slices sourdough bread

1. Put the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. When the butter melts, add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and dark brown, 1 to 3 hours.



2. Add the wine, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook until the wine evaporates. Add the stock and thyme sprigs, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oven (or a toaster oven) to 400 degrees F, or heat a broiler. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the bread slices, and bake or broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Remove the thyme sprigs from the soup, and discard them. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into four bowls, top each bowl with a bread slice, and serve.

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