Cognac, vermouth, and real onions? Sorry soup-in-an-envelope, you don’t stand a chance!
However, I learned the hard way that a shower is necessary after making this soup. I am sure the waft of onion that trailed behind me offended a number of people. But who cares? Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, being a temporary Stink-Monster is totally worth it.
Instead of the vermouth, a dry white wine can be substituted.
1 1/2 – 2lbs of yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts beef stock (or 1 quart beef stock, 4 cups water, 2 cups beef broth), boiling
1/2 cup extra dry white vermouth
1/4 cup of cognac
salt and pepper to taste
1 baguette, sliced into rounds and toasted.
grated Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1. Melt the butter into the oil over low heat in a saucepan. Add the onions, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover, and cook slowly for about 15 minutes.
2. Uncover, increase the heat to about medium. Remove the thyme and bay leaves; stir in the salt and sugar (the sugar helps the onions brown.) Cook, stirring frequently, for about 30-40 minutes until the onions have turned a deep, golden brown.
3. Add the flour and stir constantly for about 3 minutes or until the raw flour taste has cooked out.
4. Remove from heat. Blend in the boiling stock, add the vermouth and cognac. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Simmer, partially covered, for at least 30-40 minutes. Skim the film off the top as necessary. Adjust seasoning.
6. Preheat the broiler to 475º
7. Ladle the soup into oven-safe bowls or a soup tureen. Float two rounds of toast on top and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
8. Broil for about 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has browned lightly.