Traditional French Onion Soup Gratinee

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), sliced thin
7¾ cups homemade beef or veal broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Ground black pepper
1 baguette, cut on the bias into 3/4-inch slices (2 slices per serving)
5 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
1 ½ ounces grated Asiago cheese (about 3/4 cup)

Melt butter in large soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add sliced onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to coat onions thoroughly with butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are reduced and syrupy and inside of pot is coated with very deep brown crust, 30 to 35 minutes. Stir in the beef broth, red wine, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, and bring to simmer. Simmer to blend flavors, about 20 minutes, and discard herbs. Stir in balsamic vinegar and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. (Can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated in airtight container up to 2 days; return to simmer before finishing soup with croutons and cheese).

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the bread out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, flipping once, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven. Turn the oven to broil.

Set heat-safe soup bowls or crocks on rimmed baking sheet and fill each with about 1 1/2 cups soup. Top each bowl with two toasted baguette slices and sprinkle Gruyere cheese evenly on bread, followed by 2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese over each serving and broil until well browned and bubbly, 7 to 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.



Makes 2 quarts

8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 dried bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 pound beef-stew meat, cubed
2 pounds veal bones, (Ask your butcher to cut the veal bones into smaller pieces)
2 pounds meaty crosscut beef shanks (preferably 1 inch thick)
1 large onion, peel on, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into thirds
2 stalks celery, cut into thirds
2 cups water (or dry red wine)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Make a bouquet garni by wrapping parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie with kitchen twine, and set aside. Arrange meat, veal bones, onion, carrots, and celery in an even layer in a heavy roasting pan. Roast, turning every 20 minutes, until the vegetables and the bones are deep brown, about 1- 1½ hours.

Transfer meat and vegetables to a 6- to 8-quart stockpot. Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add 2 cups water (or wine) and deglaze pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Add deglazing liquid to stockpot along with 14 cups water, celery, salt, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and skim froth. Reduce to a simmer, liquid should just bubble up to surface. Simmer over the lowest possible heat for 3-4 hours; a skin may form on the surface of the liquid; skim off with a slotted spoon, and discard. Repeat as needed. Add water if at any time the level drops below the bones.

Pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing hard on solids, and discard solids. If using stock right away, skim off and discard fat. If not, cool stock completely, uncovered, before skimming fat (it will be easier to remove when cool), then chill, covered.


– Recipe courtesy of Cook Like James