WGN’s Dean Richards shares these recipes.
French Onion Soup
- 6 large red or yellow onions (about 3 pounds)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, OR 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
- 8 slices (1 inch thick) French bread or baguette
- 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- Sprinkling grated Parmesan cheese
Peel and thinly slice the onions from root to stem. There should be about 10 cups of sliced onions in total.
In a 5 to 6-quart thick-bottomed pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat with the olive oil.
Cook the onions, stirring often, until they have softened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter and cook, stirring often, until the onions start to brown, about 20 to 40 minutes. The amount of time will vary depending on your pot, stove, and onions.
Sprinkle with sugar (to help with the caramelization) and 1 teaspoon of salt.
Continue to cook until the onions are well browned, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more.
Add the wine or vermouth to the pot and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pot, deglazing the pot as you go.
Add the stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
Season to taste with more salt and add freshly ground black pepper. Discard the bay leaves. Add brandy if using.
While the soup is simmering, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Brush both sides of the French bread or baguette slices lightly with olive oil (you’ll end up using about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil for this).
Put in the oven and toast until lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven.
Turn the toasts over and sprinkle with the grated Gruyere cheese and Parmesan. Return to oven when it’s close to serving time and bake until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and transfer one cheesy toast onto the top of each bowl of soup.
Alternatively, you can use individual oven-proof bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350° F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned.
French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon onion soup mix
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Four 1/2-inch-thick slices sourdough bread
- 1/2 cup grated Cheddar
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/4 cup crispy onions, such as French’s
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the slices start to wilt and turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the onion soup mix, thyme and 2 tablespoons water. Turn the heat to low, then continue to cook, stirring and adding more water a tablespoon at a time if the mixture gets too dry, until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 5 to 10 more minutes.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard onto one side of each slice of bread.
Divide the Cheddar, Gruyere, caramelized onions and crispy onions between 2 of the slices of bread on top of the mustard. Top each with another slice of bread, mustard-side in, and lay the sandwiches in the pan.
Cook, pressing down on top of the sandwiches, until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and flip the sandwiches, cooking until the cheese is melted and the bottoms are golden brown, about 3 more minutes. Cut in half and serve.