French Onion Soup Gratinée
Soup Club Warmth for a Chilly Winter Day
Last year, inspired by The Soup Club Cookbook, I started a Soup Club with three of my friends. The way a Soup Club works is that each week one person takes a turn preparing 8 quarts of soup. With four people, you only have to make soup once a month, and the other three weeks you have the soups delivered to your doorstep! Following The Soup Club Cookbook design, we each purchased a 6-pack of beautiful Weck Tulip Canning Jars* so we would all be unified in our approach. The person preparing the soup delivers two quarts to each family on Friday afternoon or evening. Sometimes we get only the delicious soups, other times there are added accoutrements such as a small package of croutons, a small loaf of French bread or a container of grated cheese to sprinkle on top! Any last minute serving instructions are included.
The secret to the perfect Soup Club is to combine the talents of friends who have similar likes and dislikes. For instance, you don’t want to necessarily combine a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-intolerant family in the same Soup Club as the options for soups would be very limited. I would definitely suggest you consider purchasing The Soup Club Cookbook, as the recipes are inspirational and already portioned to result in 8 quarts. If not, you could easily quadruple your favorite recipes.
Last year we enjoyed a variety of soups until the summer warmth hit and we decided to hold off until cooler weather set in again. We started up this year’s Soup Club right after the holidays. There’s nothing like being at home on a snowy Friday evening knowing that a delicious supper will be delivered by a friend! This year I began the Soup Club with my favorite recipe for French Onion Soup Gratinée. Although I made a giant pot of soup for the Club, here I am offering my more modest recipe that serves 4.
French Onion Soup Gratinée
½ cup unsalted butter
4 large sweet Spanish onions, halved, then thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups of meat stock (I prefer double strength)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons A-1 steak sauce
1 cup of white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ½-inch-thick slices of French bread, toasted
½ pound (or 4 thick slices) Gruyère or Swiss cheese
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and salt, stir to coat well with the butter, then cook over low heat, covered, for 30 minutes, until soft. Stir occasionally.
Remove the cover and raise the heat to medium-high. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions turn a deep golden brown. Be extremely careful not to let any onions stick and burn. The liquid released earlier by the onions will steam off, letting the sugar in the onions caramelize. This will take about an hour and cannot be rushed, as this is the most important step in making a delicious onion soup.
When the onions are all a uniformly deep color, add the stock and bay leaves and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the Worcestershire, A-1, and white wine and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. The sauces will add some “umami” depth to the soup and the white wine will add a bright crisp note.
Carefully discard the two bay leaves, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper, if necessary. Preheat your oven to broil.
Ladle the soup into individual heat-proof crocks or bowls, top each with a slice of toasted French bread and a slice (or sprinkle) of cheese.
Carefully place the bowls on a baking sheet and broil until the cheese is melted and golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.
The Soup Club Cookbook, written by four friends: Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow, and Julie Peacock, and the Weck Tulip Canning Jars (Weck 745, 1 Liter, Set of 6) are available on Amazon.com.