Recipe from "Parisian Home Cooking" by Michael Roberts
2 pounds medium yellow onions, finely-chopped (about 6 cups)
5 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 Bay Leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
2 t salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup medium-dry sherry (optional)
3 T bread crumbs
1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c grated Gruyere cheese
1) Place half (3 cups) of the onions in a soup pot with the broth, bay leaves, thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 2 hours, or until the onions have completely fallen apart.
2) Meanwhile, melt 1 T of the butter in a small heavy skillet over low heat. add the remaining onions and the sherry, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a dark golden color, about 1 hour.
3) Scrape the onions in the skillet into the soup pot, add the bread crumbs, and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
4) Preheat the oven to 300 F.
5) Add the parmesan cheese to the soup and simmer for another 5 minutes. Place six ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet, pour the piping-hot soup into the bowls, sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese, and place on a rack in the oven. Leave in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese before serving.
Here is what I did. I used dried thyme. I used the sherry. Out of fresh parmesan so that was a no-go. Also, poured a bit of the soup into the skillet to de-glaze the sauteed onions.
My dh (who is not a "foodie") thought this was delicious. I agree. It is restaurant quality soup.
The cider in that is scary, I would think it would be too sweet.
To the OP: If you want to make one with a homemade stock (and this soup really benefits from that), the Washington Post ran an excellent series of cooking lessons from an instructor at La Academie de Cuisine and they started off with French Onion Soup. The instructions on the broth and caramelizing the onions are excellent and simply told. The soup is rich and deep-- wonderful.
I read the recipe on epicurious and I am upset by the idea of celery in onion soup. It's just wrong.
Here is a kind of recipe (I usually don't measure, but this is pretty close)
3 T. butter
4 large yellow onions (sliced thin)
2 T. flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
3 cups beef broth
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup dry red wine
slices of firm French bread
1 1/2 cup grated Gruyere
chopped fresh parsley (optional)
In large saucepan, melt butter. Over medium heat, cook onions until fully brown and caramelized (15-20 mins). Stir flour, salt& pepper and cook for 2-3 mins. Pour in broths and boil. Add thyme and red wine. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1/2 hour. Ladle soup into bowls and top with bread, then cheese (parsley). Melt under broiler.
DO NOT skimp on the caramelization. It takes a while, but it makes SUCH a difference in the richness of the soup.
re: Main Line Tracey
Do you by any chance have the Balthazar cookbook - I love their French onion soup. Definitely agree w/ other poster about allow onions to carmelize properly. The Balthazar recipe adds a lovely dose of port at the end of cooking. I like a combination of gruyere and fontina for the cheese - because I have a "bottom" broiler, I melt the cheese on bread slices in the broiler and then add to the soup, along with a health amount of grated cheese to the bowl before I pour in the soup.
re: Main Line Tracey
ML Tracy's recipe is right on, though..
Bacon is also sometimes added, giving a little more richness and a smokey touch. Use a large piece and remove at the end. I prefer madera to red wine, and finishing with a splash of good port is a nice touch.
I must reiterate that browning the onions is the key, though one must be careful not to burn them.