The trick to a truly amazing French onion soup, of course, lies within the rich flavor of caramelized onions. Specifically, the patience you have to sit there and stir, stir, stir, until your pot of eye-watering onion slices melt and caramelize…. This takes for freaking ever, so be warned. But French onion soup is worth it.
About 3 lbs. (6 large) yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red cooking wine
8 cups (two 32 oz. containers) beef stock
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons fresh thyme OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 loaf French bread OR baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
1 1/2 cups grated Swiss or Gruyere
Set a heavy-bottomed pot (about 5 to 6-quarts) to medium-low heat; add olive oil. Add onions and toss to coat. Cover pot and cook onions, stirring often, until softened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season onions with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and add butter. Continue to cook, stirring often, until onions begin to brown, about 20 more minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Pour in white cooking wine to deglaze pan. Scrape up browned bits on bottom and sides of pot with a wooden spoon.
Pour in beef stock; add bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover pot and lower heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes.
While soup simmers, brush both sides of French bread slices lightly with olive oil. Place slices on rack of a hot oven. Toast until lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove and sprinkle toasts with grated cheese. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, place bowls on a baking sheet, and top with cheesy toasts. Place back into your oven for 2-3 minutes more, or until cheese is melted and soup is bubbly.
** You can also premake bread with melted cheese, fill bowl with soup, then place the bread it. This gets rid of the pain in the ass of trying to put full bowls of soup in an oven.