Like the author of The Curvy Carrot, we too don’t know who Henri is, but we’re terribly glad he came up with this French Onion Soup recipe. A cheese aficionado’s dream, this pot of rich, rustic liquid delivers perfect portions of bread, soup and cheese. Throw a checkered tablecloth over your outdoor table, tear up the remainder of the crusty baguette and take your tastebuds on a trip to Montmartre.
3 pounds yellow onions, cut into 1/8-inch pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more as needed
1 pinch sugar
8 cups water, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 crusty baguette
Gruyere cheese – thickly sliced and placed over the top of the crock to create a thick even layer
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and sugar. Toss to evenly coat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Take the cover off, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are lightly browned. Cook for a little less than 90 minutes.
At this point, stir every 5 minutes and add water (a tablespoon at a time to loosen up the dark brown stuff that forms on the bottom of the pan). Continue to cook until the onions are an even dark brown colour, an additional 30 minutes longer or so.
Add the flour and stir for two minutes. Add 8 cups water and thyme to the onions and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add white wine and simmer 10 minutes longer. Add salt to taste.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 160° Celcius and adjust a rack to the upper middle position. Cut the baguette into 3/4 inch slices and arrange on a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake until the bread is dry, about 10 minutes. Remove bread slices and set aside.
Heat grill and place 6 heatproof bowls in a baking tray. Fill each bowl with about 2 cups soup. Top each with two baguette slices and evenly distribute cheese slices over the bread. Grill until well-browned and bubbly, about ten minutes. Cool for five minutes before serving.