My husband and I have this thing for French onion soup, and many date nights have been centred around trying new restaurants for their French onion soup. The best we ever had was on our babymoon in Vegas. Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio serves the most rich and hearty French onion soup with Gruyere and Emmentaler!
My version is a little homier and definitely a comfort food with a twist. If I stick with the more plain, stretchy cheese, my sons love this one. It’s delish and fun to eat.
– 6-7 onions, sliced – Yellow, Spanish or Bermuda will work
– 4 tablespoons of butter
– 2 tablespoons salt
– cracked pepper
– big pinch of thyme (optional)
– 1 ounce of whiskey (cognac, brandy, rye or scotch will work) (or two ounces if you choose to drink one!)
– 1 pound beef, thinly sliced (often packaged as Chinese fondue meat)
– French bread
– 3 cups of shredded Havarti (you can use Gruyere, Mozzarella or Gouda – mix in Jarlsberg or other Swiss cheeses – you can pick your favourite or mix)
The soup needs to be made the day before as it needs a good 24 hours of simmering to really bring the flavours out. But it’s not a lot of work, just a lot of simmering.
Slice onions into long, strips, not too thin or they’ll disintegrate. In a soup pot, sauté the onions in the butter on medium heat, really caramelizing them. The darker the better – though don’t let them burn. Add the water, filling the soup pot two inches below the top. Add the salt, whiskey, thyme and cracked pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then drop to medium low, allowing a very slow boil or simmer. Add half of the beef and leave it alone.
You’ll need to allow this to simmer for 24 hours, topping up with water as you lose some. Feel free to nibble on the beef – it’s so delicious – most of it will tenderize and break into small pieces. You may need to add salt and/or pepper, to taste.
Get ready to serve:
About an hour before dinner: Add the other half of the beef and continue to simmer.
15 minutes before dinner: Toast one to two slices of French bread for every serving of soup. With the rich, oniony broth ready, ladle into oven-proof bowls. Add toast to each bowl and cover with a very thick, generous serving of cheese. Put in the oven to broil for couple of minutes. Keep a close eye on this, you want the cheese to brown, but not burn.
The pieces of meat inside the soup are a hearty little treat, and my family loves this addition. This soup just keeps getting better, so save the leftovers for the following day.
If you don’t have oven-proof bowls, don’t worry, you can still make this. After toasting the bread, spread toast on a cookie sheet and cover with shredded cheese. Broil until the desired browning and then place them on the bowls of soup. Spoon a bit of soup over the cheese toasts to melt and moisten.