My mom and dad used to pull out all the stops when they would throw a dinner party. Looking back, these parties are probably what instilled a love of great food and entertaining in me. Although they made several different recipes over the years, two in particular stand out in my mind: My dad’s Caesar salad (which I will share at another time) and my mom’s French onion soup, both of which hold a special place in my heart…er, stomach. I have eaten French onion soup all over the world, including Paris, and to this day my mom’s version tops them all. It’s a simple classic recipe without a lot of bells and whistles, but it is my favourite. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
4 tbsp bacon fat
4 tbsp butter
2lbs cooking onions, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup red wine
900 ml beef stock
900 ml chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
12 1 inch slices of baguette
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
Melt the bacon fat and butter in a very large skillet placed over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and stir to coat with fat. Turn down to medium low and cook the onions uncovered for 35-45 min, stirring every 10 min. Adjust the temperature of your burner accordingly to prevent the onions from burning. When the onions are done they will be soft, sticky and a rich caramel colour.
Add the red wine to the skillet and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off the bottom. Bring red wine to a simmer and cook for 3 min.
Add beef and chicken stock to skillet and bring back to a simmer, cooking covered for 30 min.*
Meanwhile place your baguette slices on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Place into a 350 degree oven and cook for 5 min on one side, turn over and cook for another 5 min. Remove from oven and rub a garlic clove all over the toasted baguette.
Ladle onion soup into 6 oven-proof bowls, top each with 2 toasted baguette pieces and divide grated cheese over each bowl.
Place bowls on to a baking sheet for easy transfer and place back in the oven for 12-15 min, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
TIP: You can make the onion soup ahead of time and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.