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Fabulous French Onion

A few years ago, my family and I tried this soup when having dinner at our friend Nadia’s house. She used pepper jack instead of gruyère cheese, as well as sweet vidalia onion and pear. It was rated a 10 by everyone at the table—and an 11 by my son. You’ll have to try it yourself to find out why it could perhaps be the best French Onion recipe on the planet.

Yield: 
8 cups soup plus bread and cheese
Cooking Time:  1 Minutes
Prep Time:  30 Minutes
Ingredients: 
  • 6-7 Tbsp salted butter plus extra for bread
  • 1 cup sliced leek (1-2 leeks)
  • 5 cups slivered mixed onions (red, brown, and/or vidalia)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
  • ⅔ cup sherry
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 stale baguette, sliced (white or wholegrain, 1-inch slices)
  • 1 cored, thinly sliced soft bartlett or anjou pear (optional)
  • 2-3 cups grated pepper jack cheese or other favorite
  • 3 Tbsp toasted sliced almonds for garnishing (optional)
  • Sliced or whole dried cranberries for garnishing (optional)
Instructions: 
  1. Heat the butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat, add the leek, onion, and garlic, and sauté for 30 to 40 minutes, keeping them covered most of the time and stirring occasionally until the onions caramelize. Add another tablespoon of butter if necessary.
  2. Once the onions have caramelized, add the sherry and simmer uncovered for a few minutes to let the alcohol evaporate. Add the water, salt, thyme, pepper, and soy sauce, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for another 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to broil. Spread the slices of bread on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for a minute or so, then turn them over to toast the other side. Remove the bread pieces from the oven and butter them.
  4. Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls and top with 2 slices of bread, 2 to 3 slices of pear (optional), and ½ cup or so of cheese. Broil for a couple of minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden, then remove from the oven. Garnish with toasted almonds and dried cranberries (both optional) and serve right away.   

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