How to make it

  • 1. Cut each onion top to bottom: Peel away the skin.
  • 2. Slice each half of the onion into thin, evenly-sized half moons. You will have at least 6 cups of chopped onions. But don't worry too much about quantities; if you have an extra onion to use up, throw it in.
  • 3. Melt the butter in 4-quart or larger heavy pan, such as a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven, set over medium-low heat.
  • 4. After the butter foams up and then settles down, add the onions and stir to coat with the butter.
  • 5. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes on low heat.
  • 6. The onions should have wilted down somewhat.
  • 7. Stir in ½ tsp. salt, a generous quantity of black pepper, and ½ tsp. sugar (this helps the onions caramelize).
  • 8. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for 40 min. to 1 hour, uncovered and stirring every few minutes, until the onions are deeply browned. Turn down the heat if the onions scorch or stick to the pan; the browning doesn't come through burning, but through slow, even caramelization.
  • 9. As the onions approach a deep walnut color, heat the broth in a separate pot.
  • 10. Add 3 Tbs. flour (if using) to the caramelized onions and cook and stir for about 1 minute.
  • 11. Add the hot broth to the caramelized onions and bring to a boil. If using wine, add this now.
  • 12. Lower the heat, add the bay leaf and partially cover the pan. (If you want to add other aromatics such as herbs or spices, do so now).
  • 13. Cook gently over low heat for at least 1 hour or until the broth is slightly reduced.
  • 14. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Add a finishing splash of brandy, if desired!
  • 15. Place the soup in deep bowls or soup mugs. Sprinkle with cheese and serve with chewy French bread See Photo. Or follow the steps below.
  • THIS PART IS ENTIRELY OPTIONAL AND I DON’T USUALLY BOTHER. It doesn’t make the soup better but it makes a nice presentation.
  • 1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Divide the soup between small but deep oven-safe bowls. Top each with a slice (or two) of toasted baguette and sprinkle grated cheese in a thick layer over the bread and up to the edge of the bowl.
  • 2. Place the bowls on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish. Bake until the cheese is thoroughly melted, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • 3. Turn the oven from bake to broil and broil the soup for 1 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbling.
  • 4. Remove carefully from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving on heatproof dishes or trivets. Serve with freshly ground pepper and minced fresh onion or shallot.

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