I was raised by a “farm and ranch” Mom who always had staples in the pantry and the fridge. I haven’t strayed far from that way of life. One year we were iced in for five days and never ran low on food!
This is one of those recipes I pull up when I’m working from home, haven’t found the time to run to the market and want to get a comforting meal on the table for dinner. I keep baguettes in the freezer, cheese is always in abundance in my fridge. Beef stock and onions, two staples always in my pantry, transform with a little time and patience into an amazing meal.
For the base you want to have a hearty, rich beef stock. I don’t always have time to cook a stock from scratch so I often use cartons of beef stock. I add some additional components to the stock (my Mom referred to this as “doctoring it up”!) then let the stock simmer, to reduce and intensify those flavors. The onions need time to cook down and caramelize, removing the somewhat pungent flavor, bringing out their sweetness. A quick note, if you don’t have shallots on hand, it’s not a problem. Just proceed with the onions.
And since you’ve got to add a little wine to the soup, pour yourself a glass and enjoy the process!
For the stock base:
4 cartons beef stock, 32 ounces each
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons concentrated beef bouillon
Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven or stockpot; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue cooking over medium low heat for about 2-3 hours, allowing the stock to reduce and the flavors to intensify.
For the onion base:
3 pounds sweet yellow onions, sliced thin, about 1/8″ thick
2 large shallots, sliced thin, about 1/8″ thick
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons flour
¾ cup white wine, such as a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil; when the butter has melted add the onions.
Stir onions and shallots until coated in the butter and olive oil, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the brown sugar, molasses, kosher salt and pepper, blending well into the onions. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook uncovered for another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the flour and quickly stir into the onions. Cook for about five minutes, stirring to prevent the flour from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Slowly add about two cups of the beef stock to the onions. Add the remaining beef broth stirring well; simmer over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes.
Stir in the white wine, cook for an additional 20 minutes.
To serve you’ll want:
Baguettes, thinly sliced and lightly toasted
Havarti or Gruyère cheese, grated
Ladle the soup into bowls, top with bread and grated cheese.
If you want to melt the cheese under the broiler, make certain you use oven safe bowls. Place the soup bowls on a baking sheet under a broiler for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.