It is the time of year to share the comfort and joy of the holiday season with friends. I like to dress up our home, making it sparkle and invite friends to our annual Christmas party. It takes me a few days to get the house ready because I like to decorate all the rooms on the main floor for a festive look. Between trips up the stairs to the attic for boxes of ornaments and climbing ladders to reach the tops of each Christmas tree, by evening I’m tired. On busy days, I want our evening meal to be something that I can prepare earlier in the day and just serve at dinner without much effort.
Nothing could be easier to make than a flavorful bowl of classic French onion soup topped with a nice piece of bread covered with Gruyère cheese that has bubbled and turned golden. Once the onions have been caramelized, and the rest of the ingredients added, it sits on the stove top simmering away until you are ready to eat.
The secret to this classic soup is slowly caramelizing the onions until they turn a deep golden brown. When deglazed with wine, beef broth and left to simmer, the result is a richly flavored soup of almost melted, silky onions that have turned sweet from being caramelized. Topped with a large toasted crouton rubbed with garlic, covered with cheese and baked until bubbling and brown, it is a comforting bowl of goodness.
Served with a green salad and a glass of wine, you will have a filling and delicious meal.
French Onion Soup
Makes two servings (two cups per portion)…adjust recipe accordingly.
- 4 large onions, peeled, halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. flour (I used Wondra)
- 1/2 c. wine (I used white) plus an addition 1/4 c. wine to be added later
- 2 c. beef broth
- 2 c. water
- 2 bay leaves
- several sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 2 slices of bread cut to the size of the serving bowls, lightly toasted (rubbed with a clove of garlic, if desired)
- 2 handfuls of grated Gruyère cheese
Heat a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven and melt the butter with the olive oil. When it starts to sizzle add the onions, cover and cook over medium heat and sweat the onions until their liquid has cooked off. Uncover, lower the heat and let the onions cook slowly, stirring occasionally until they are caramelized…anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the flour, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper and let cook for a couple of minutes. Add the half cup of wine, broth, water and stir well and let simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes. About 10 minutes before serving, add the remaining wine and sherry vinegar. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems before putting into bowls.
Before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If using the broiler to finish the dish, make sure that the soup is very hot before continuing. Place ovenproof bowls on a foil lined baking sheet. Ladle soup into the bowls, top with the toasted bread and place a handful of cheese on top. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the soup is bubbling and the cheese is golden. Carefully remove and serve.
The house is slowly getting decorated. Wreaths are hung at each window, and the entrance hall is decorated and waiting for my husband and I to welcome our guests. The trees have their ornaments and have a bright glow from their twinkling lights.
I had requests last year from readers wanting to see a little more of our historic home that was built in the 1730’s. In the next few posts, I’ll be including a photo or two of some of the rooms that are decorated for this holiday season. I hope you will enjoy the little holiday tour of our home at Christmas time.